Overall, it is one of the largest museums in the world.
Since 2001, the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation programme, which has seen a major overhaul of the departments, including the introduction of newer galleries, gardens, shops and visitor facilities.
The museum also runs the Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green and used to run the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden and Apsley House.
This led to the transfer to the museum of the School of Design that had been founded in 1837 at Somerset House; after the transfer it was referred to as the Art School or Art Training School, later to become the Royal College of Art which finally achieved full independence in 1949.
From the 1860s to the 1880s the scientific collections had been moved from the main museum site to various improvised galleries to the west of Exhibition Road.
The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Like other national British museums, entrance to the museum has been free since 2001. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa.
In the 1980s, Sir Roy Strong renamed the museum as "The Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Museum of Art and Design".
Strong's successor Elizabeth Esteve-Coll oversaw a turbulent period for the institution in which the museum's curatorial departments were re-structured, leading to public criticism from some staff.By 1948 most of the collections had been returned to the museum.In July 1973, as part of its outreach programme to young people, the V&A became the first museum in Britain to present a rock concert.The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), London, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects.It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.This was organised by the Council of Industrial Design established by the British government in 1944 "to promote by all practicable means the improvement of design in the products of British industry".