The origins of the V&A go back to 1837 and it has grown to be one of the world's greatest museums. Its collections include ancient textiles, modern chairs, sculpture by Michelangelo, paintings by Constable, fabulous Indian jewellery and miniatures, and over thirty-four thousand ceramics. The chronological and cultural ranges of the V&A's collections and displays offer many different perspectives. The objects can be seen as examples of craftsmanship and design, as witnesses to history and culture, or simply as superb works of art - things of beauty in and for themselves. This book, with a preface by the Director, Mark Jones, is an introduction to the riches of the V&A. It reveals the fascinating and often surprising ways that the collections have been assembled, and examines the unique character of the V&A.