History’s First Museum Café is in Kensington

History’s First Museum Café is in Kensington
#BvlgariStories

In the 1860s, the idea of eating or drinking at a museum must have seemed rather bizarre. But Henry Cole, director and founder of the future Victoria and Albert Museum, didn’t seem to think so at all. Convinced that his collection of science and decorative art, the South Kensington Museum, could offer an alternative to “gin palaces”, he added three dining areas to the museum at the very forefront of design. After having crossed half the city in carriages to the neighbourhood, then known as Brompton, visitors were greeted by a rich garden and, then, three archways leading to lavishly decorated spaces. The sumptuous Gamble Room sparkled with glass tile inspired by the Italian Renaissance, huge mirrors and cherubs intent on eating or reading the newspaper. The Poynter Room was dominate by tiles and windows with Oriental motifs, such as waves and peacocks. The fragrance of steaks and stewed rabbit wafted among the tables, inviting visitors to sample a menu created to suit all budgets. Finally, the Green Room was created by a designer destined for greatness. William Morris was only 31 years old when he designed the refined hall in the Neo-Gothic style but his ideas were already quite mature - from the walls to the ceiling, olive branches, geometric designs and floral arabesques hin-ted towards the unmistakable style of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Francesca Grego - © 2020 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel London