Monday 10 December 2018
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theguardian - 22 days ago

Tristram Hunt: ‘In the era of fake news, museums allow a better understanding of truth and history’

The director of the V A on the institution’s expansion into east London, the antisemitism row in the Labour party, and the changing role of museumsTouring the Victoria Albert Museum with Tristram Hunt, the former Labour MP who has been its director since 2017, is a bit like visiting Hamleys toy store with a small child: so many rooms through which to dash, and so many wondrous objects in each of them. I’ve asked him to show me the one thing he would like most to pinch or borrow for a while – something that stirs his heart, as opposed to something he’s merely practised at talking about – but I see now that this was perhaps a silly idea. His frown says it all. How could he ever choose?In the splendid Cast Courts, where he takes me first, he talks at speed of the Victorian passion for copying stuff, gazing all the while at the lower half of the museum’s monumental plaster reproduction of Trajan’s column in Rome – and for a moment I wonder at his ambition (also, at the size of his house). This, however, is merely a detour, one he seemingly cannot resist. Next, we visit a famous millefleurs tapestry of 1500 from Flanders, in which a hallucinatory unicorn prances, dazzling even now in its field of red, green and blue – “The president of Ghana loved this,” he says, confidingly – and then the medieval galleries, where he shows me a ravishing reliquary casket from 1200, shaped like a church with a gabled roof and made of brilliantly hued Limoges enamelwork. Continue reading...

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