Fun, Joyful and Step Free Mary Quant Exhibition at the V and A
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid
This review is for the Mary Quant exhibition which has just opened and is on until 16 February 2020. The exhibition covers the 1950s to 1970s, lots of clothing including mini skirts and hot pants, Quant's own make up brand and accessories. The entire exhibition is step free.
Transport & Parking
The nearest tube station South Kensington is not step free. Although the Piccadilly, District and Circle line stop there all the platforms involve steps to the ticket office hall level and then further steps to street level. This is really disappointing. There are a number of buses that stop outside or near to the V and A. I would suggest picking up bus no 14 from Green Park which is an step free station.
The Mary Quant exhibition is in Gallery 40. The easiest way to get there is to go via the main step free entrance on Cromwell Road, which has steps or a gradual slope. here was a revolving door and an accessible entrance next to it. The signage for Mary Quant isn't obvious in places and could be better. Go through the entrance hall and then turn left until you come to the Mary Quant sign on your right. Walk into the fashion gallery the Quant exhibition is in the centre of this gallery. However, you need to go round to the far side to get to the entrance. The entrance is quite narrow, there is a lane for ticket holders and one for V and A members, there's no entrance door to deal with. I had pre-booked and I attended the 1st day it was open to the public and when I arrived there was no queue so I walked straight in. The exhibition is on 2 levels. On the ground floor is the early history. Immediately when you walk in there is a bench immediately to your left. However, there is not much seating throughout the exhibition (so don't get excited). Throughout the exhibition the items are in glass cabinets. There isn't a lot of spaces downstairs, see photo. The cabinets are around the wall with floor to ceiling glass. Each section had an information board on the wall and there are details about each item in the cabinets. The clothes and items are beautifully presented. There are also few videos playing throughout the exhibition. There was one bench, each bench hold 3 people at most of video points and downstairs there was 1 with no seating. This is a major problem as I can't stand to watch a whole video, so I end up missing these. It's only when I looked at my photos I noticed that the video had subtitles, see photo. There is a flight of stairs with handrail to the upper floor. There is also a platform lift, if you are facing the stairs, it's on the right hand side. It is not sign posted and I wasn't told about it when I arrived. The platform lift is spacious. The lift has the same patterned mosaic floor as the main gallery floor, see photo. I wish the museum had put as much thought into signposting the lift. so I didn't need to hunt for it. Upstairs is much more spacious and covers the later years. I only found 1 bench away from the videos to sit. The exhibition is not as big as the Dior one, but by the time I got upstairs I needed a big rest before I did the upper floor, as going round the exhibition due to the glass floor to ceiling cabinets there is no where to lean against while walking round the exhibition. The exit to the exhibition is back where the entrance is on the ground floor.
There is an large accessible toilet to the left when entering the main entrance, by the lift. It was spacious with grab rails and emergency cord (sorry no photo).
Didn't have any interaction with the staff part from the person who checked my ticket at the entrance. When I arrived I commented to them that it was great for there not to be a queue due to my crutch and there was no response or comment made about the lift upstairs. It would be nice if the staff were more proactive, a simple, there's a lift to the right hand side of the stairs, is all that would need to have been said.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
Mary Quant is fun and uplifting. There is a lot to see as well as the clothes there are smaller items handbags, make up, shoes, Daisy dolls (my personal highlight, as this was my Mary Quant childhood in the 1970s). The exhibition is £12, so half the price of the Dior exhibition, albeit smaller. Although it's compact I would say a minimum of an hour to see it, and if it's busy even longer as space is quite tight downstairs, so you will have to queue to see some of the exhibition. Personally I had to factor in a couple of rest stops as I found the standing tiring. Highly recommend and I'd certainly be up for a second viewing. Photography is permitted so remember to bring your camera.