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The University of Sussex

 21 November 2001 

University of Sussex art historian works with Victoria & Albert Museum

An art historian from the University of Sussex has been working with the world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London on a major new exhibition that opens tomorrow (22 November).

Maurice Howard, Professor of Art History, has acted as senior subject specialist for the V&A's new British Galleries, which feature 3,000 objects telling the story of British art and design from 1500 to 1900. The galleries are the museum's largest project for over half a century.

"This display is a very new way of looking at a selection of the best and most interesting of the museum's enormous holdings of British decorative and applied arts," says Professor Howard.

He has consulted with the museum on the 16th- and 17th-century sections of the display, covering the Tudor and Stuart periods, as part of the ongoing exchange of expertise between the Art History subject group at Sussex and the V&A.

Textiles, tapestries, clothes, furniture, ceramics, silver, paintings, scientific instruments and personal effects trace the development of style and innovation through the centuries.

The display features some of Britain's most significant cultural treasures, including Henry VIII's writing desk, James II's wedding suit and the Great Bed of Ware, which will be shown 'dressed' as it might have been just after it was made in the 1590s. The inlaid bedhead, with its amazing imagery, illustrates how great beds were the focus of birth, marriage and death.

"As well as advising on content and presentation, I have been working with curators and education officers on interpretative devices for all ages," says Professor Howard. "This work has included the writing of labels, wall panels, audio visual material, online catalogues and parts of the flagship book, Design and the Decorative Arts. Britain 1500-1900."

The opening of the British Galleries coincides with the re-establishment of free admission to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

 Notes for editors 

For further information, please contact Peter Simmons or Jacqui Bealing, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email or

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