Outside, the landscaped gardens reconnect Kensington Gardens and the new entrance has a canopy to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Inside, the space has been transformed with a new palace cafe and two shops, as well as a separate ticketing space and a large and stunning luminous lace sculpture, adorned with Swarovski crystals, that was inspired by the Royal Dress Collection. This is the navigation point to choose from one of the four routes to explore the palace which should help visitors discover three hundred years of history; not just the twentieth century.
- Victoria Revealed
- Queen's State Apartments
- King's State Apartments
- Fashion Rules (temporary exhibition)
Victoria RevealedQueen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and lived there until she became queen and had to move to Buckingham Palace. She left in 1837 and the building fell into disrepair.
This permanent display tells the story of her life with some insights into her childhood days at the palace. It's where Victoria met Albert and where she was when she found out she was to be queen so there is an emotional journey and, as she was a prolific writer, the palace has tried to use her own words to tell the story. Through this exhibition you should get to know Queen Victoria as a person and discover the woman behind the crown was a much more colorful character than you would expect.
The exhibition includes over 300 objects and takes up almost the whole first floor of the public side of the building. Instead of dressing rooms as bedrooms, dining rooms, etc. the rooms have themes and the Falling in Love room is covered with quotes from love letters between Victoria and Albert; not only on the walls but also on the carpet, the mirrors, and the furniture. Plus there's a wonderful Franz Winterhalter portrait of the queen that was on display at the Queen's Gallery in the 2010 exhibition Victoria & Albert: Art & Love that shows what a beautiful young woman she was.
Younger visitors can be kept entertained with traditional toys, especially in the Childhood and Family Life room which has a toy box for them to play with. Most rooms have something to help children enjoy their visit including puzzles in the red despatch boxes in Duty & Work.
Items that visitors can't touch are generally in glass cabinets but most of the furniture is new so visitors are allowed to sit down, especially at the table in the Red Saloon where Victoria held her first Privy Council.
Queen's State ApartmentsAs with the Enchanted Palace, a theatrical company has 'interpreted' the area offering a different access to history in these dark rooms.
There are clues in the installations to hint towards their significance, such as paper birds across the ceiling in the Queen's Gallery and the twittering audio is because flocks of song birds were kept here in cages, but visitors won't discover these well thought through facts without interacting with the actors or other palace staff.
The theatre company intends to use literal, metaphorical, stage and story to bring history to life and if you're able to interpret these ideas you'll find out a vast amount about the palace's residents. Good luck with that.