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Julius Bryant on the Victoria and Albert Museum and its library

  • Date recorded: 23 Mar 2015

  • Duration: 01:01:23

'We have a common, shared history – the State Library was founded in 1854, it opened in 1856, exactly contemporary with the V&A and with a similar agenda of improving the state of society, spreading knowledge more widely.'

– Julius Bryant

About this video

The State Library and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum have much in common, from their mid-Victorian origins to their shared missions to offer knowledge to all people.

In this insightful talk, Julius Bryant from the V&A takes us back to the days of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the Great Exhibition of 1851, as he explores the museum's history and inspirational, visual feast of popular and classic culture.

Julius leads us on a mini tour of the V&A’s seven miles of galleries to admire some of the countless treasures on display, including illuminated manuscripts, the Leonardo notebooks and Charles Dickens’ working manuscripts. Reflecting on his role as keeper of Word & Image at the V&A, he notes how books are used to add texture and context to the museum’s displays.

Accompanied by more than 100 illustrative slides, his talk also introduces us to the books, bindings, posters, photography, magazines, commercial art, catalogues and fanzines specially selected from the National Art Library to appear on display here in Melbourne.

This talk by Julius Bryant was held during the launch of the State Library’s autumn 2015 exhibition, Inspiration by Design: Word and Image from the Victoria and Albert Museum, running from 20 March to 14 June.


Julius Bryant is the Keeper of the Word and Image Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He is responsible for the museum's National Art Library, a major public reference library for the fine and decorative arts. The library is also the V&A's curatorial department for the art, craft and design of the book.