Studio International

Published 11/12/2001

Mark Jones was the perfect choice to run the V & A; he had successfully masterminded the new building for the Museum of Scotland before he left, and he appears undaunted by the challenge of the brilliant Libeskind spiral, as yet still at the fund-raising stage. In the interim he has now seen through the new British Galleries (costing £31 million) where the massive under-displayed treasures of the museum’s collection have been ‘troved’ to a rare scale of glittering match and contrast. From the everyday, such as ‘Taking tea’, a display transforming the ritual and its objects so central to British life, to a rare and exotically fashionable performance for the very few — which is how it began, to the obsession with beds. On the one hand the Great Bed of Ware, always a talking point in the old jumble, is now appropriately housed and accessible, on the other hand the Earl of Melville’s massive four-poster (c.1700) yawns seductively in all its timeless, tasselled, decadence. But, was the Earl up to the performance supposed?