Britain’s Queen Victoria is probably the best-known female monarch in European history. Her name evokes the image of a dour, black-clad queen who inspired an era. But there was another side to Victoria: a young, romantic woman with an extraordinary destiny, who married her great love, Prince Albert, and had nine children. When she was 42, tragedy struck when Albert died suddenly, and her life turned to darkness.
Victoria’s powerful story is captured in the exhibit Victoria Revealed in London’s Kensington Palace. OPERA Amsterdam told her story in her own words, taken from letters, diaries, and her sketchbooks. Her quotes are integrated into the design and treated almost as objects would be. Throughout the exhibition, visitors encounter Victoria’s handwritten reminiscences of her life as wife, mother, and reigning monarch. Her words set the scene, capturing the joy and heartbreak she experienced. “History where it happened” gives life to the rooms and effectively expresses Victoria’s emotions of the moment.
The exhibition informs in a playful, multi-sensory way, appealing to different learning styles and ages. Graphics play an important role. Words don’t appear on traditional text panels but instead are woven, stitched, painted, and screenprinted on carpets, walls, toys, costumes, tables, cushions, and other objects in the exhibition—immersing visitors in the voices of Victoria, Albert, and their contemporaries. The exhibition makes extensive use of works by paper artists, costume designers, the prison community group Fine Cell Work, the community group Stitches in Time, artist collective and illustrators, students from the London College of Fashion, and Victoria and Albert music world expert and performer Oliver Davies.
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“The use of typography is imaginative and cohesive and beautiful. It has a delicate beauty and elegance that doesn't limit itself. It uses the spoken and written word, providing a whole new immersive experience. The metal screen juxtaposes the softness and emotion of the content and proclaims the permanence of feeling. There are really few exhibits that address an emotion like love in such a sensitive and imaginative way.”
Deirdre Murphy (lead curator); Ruth Gill, Rhiannon Goddard, Alex Gaffikin (interpretation); Jelena Stefanovic (lead senior designer); Renata Alvares (senior graphic designer); Jo Pike (project manager); Lies Willers (project director)
Spiral (AV production), Cristina Guitan (artist), Rebecca Morrison (costume designer), Andy Singelton (paper artist)
The Hub Ltd. (primary fabricator), Meyvaert (exhibition showcases), SP Production, (graphic application), Ege Carpets (production custom carpets), Sysco AV (AV hardware)