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London Museum Polishes Its Silver

News, Tips & Bargains

November 24, 1996

The Victoria and Albert Museum's vast Silver Galleries are to reopen Wednesday, after 2 1/2 years of renovations, with the Victorian-era interior restored, the silver newly polished and mounted, and a new section with touch-screen computers and demonstrations of silversmithing.

The galleries of the London museum, which hadn't been renovated in decades, house Britain's 1,200-piece National Collection of English Silver (1300 to 1800).

The objects range from a glittering epergne to a simple saucepan, from gilded racing trophies to a powder box. Among the more historic items is a snuff box believed to be a gift from King Charles II to his mistress, actress Nell Gwyn, in the 17th century. Works by royal goldsmiths are also represented. In a separate area, modern silver is available for purchase.

In the galleries themselves (built 1865-'69), painted ceilings by F.W. Moody have been restored, and ceramic columns reconstructed.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday and noon to 5:50 p.m. Monday. This fall, it began to charge admission: $9 adults, $5.35 seniors, free to students and children under 18. Information: 011-44-171-938-8500.

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