New Medieval And Renaissance Galleries

Share Article

New galleries open with a series of interactive displays supported by The Bonita Trust

Victoria and Albert Museum

“We are delighted to have supported the V&A’s new galleries in this way. The leveraging of technology to better inform and educate is at the core of our purpose; the interactives provide a deeper understanding of many of the magnificent objects on display

Throughout the V&A’s ten new Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, there are a series of interactive touch screens which allow the visitor to explore objects in more detail. Pages from Leonardo’s famous Codex Forster have been digitised for the first time, allowing visitors to zoom in and turn the pages of his intricate notebooks, and one of the magnificent Devonshire Hunting Tapestries has also been digitized, examining medieval courtly life. Short films explain the context in which objects were created such as Donatello’s celebrated Ascension relief and audio points play specially commissioned music from the period.

The interactive displays are all available in the galleries and on the V&A’s website: and can be accessed from computer terminals in the specially created Bonita Trust Study Area.

The interactive displays and study area have been made possible with generous funding from the Bonita Trust. First member of the Bonita Trust Advisory Board, Ruth Parasol DeLeon, said: “We are delighted to have supported the V&A’s new galleries in this way. The leveraging of technology to better inform and educate is at the core of our purpose; the interactives provide a deeper understanding of many of the magnificent objects on display, examining their original context and use, bringing them alive for a new generation.”

Touch screen interactives:

Pages from all three volumes of Leonardo’s notebooks (c.1495) have been digitised for the first time allowing visitors to ‘turn the pages’ and zoom in on these fascinating notebooks. Translations of Leonardo’s notes are provided on each page and an animation explains his famous ‘mirror writing’.

A digital version of The Boar and Bear Hunt (about 1425-30), one of the four impressive Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, enables visitors to move around and zoom in on the tapestry to learn more about medieval courtly life. It provides information about specific figures depicted as well as the costumes worn by these fashionably dressed nobles. Another section explains how the tapestry was made and reveals the colours of the tapestry as they originally looked.

The beautifully illuminated St Denis Missal, 1350, contains the prayers said and sung during Mass. Visitors can ‘turn-the-pages’ of the book on a touch screen whilst listening to the sound of sung Mass which has been transcribed and recorded for the first time by The Royal College of Music with the support of The Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Santa Chiara Chapel (about 1494-1500) in the ‘Renaissance City’ gallery is the only Italian Renaissance chapel that can be seen outside of Italy. The University of Sussex have created an exact model replica of the interior of the church of Santa Chiara in Florence. This has been filmed to create a 3D virtual tour through the church so visitors can feel like they are stepping inside the actual church.

The Ivory Devotional booklet (about 1330-50) is composed of two carved outer ivories and six thinner panels inside painted with scenes of the Passion of Christ. Users can highlight ‘hot-spots’ of interest on a computer screen which give more information about the booklet’s owner, the figures in the story and the instruments of the Passion.

‘Inside the Renaissance Home’ enables visitors to learn about how individual objects were used during the period through animations and audio. They can be considered either by theme – ‘Eating and Drinking’; ‘Splendour and Display’; ‘Lighting and Heating’; and ‘Commemoration and Devotion’; or by place – Northern Europe; Italy; Britain; Spain and Portugal.

Short films:
There are six short films located next to related objects in the galleries:

Religious processions. This film was made on Palm Sunday in the Austrian village of Thaur, near Innsbrook, and features a figure of Christ on a donkey, being pulled through the streets and reveals how aspects of medieval religious traditions are still practised today.

Charlemagne and Aachen. This film explores Charlemagne’s court in Aachen in 810 when the Lorsch Gospels were made for Lorsch Abbey in Aachen (the ivory front cover is on display in the galleries). It includes maps showing his enormous area of rule, contemporary location shots and a brief history of related objects.

Donatello and Florence looks in detail at the work of the most important and influential sculptor of 15th-century Italy. It focuses on Donatello’s Ascension relief, one of the finest surviving examples of his work and examines his influence.

A film on Rudolph II and Prague examines the bronze portrait bust of Rudolph II, who, at the peak of his authority, was King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Archduke of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor. He was the greatest European collector and patron of his day and made Prague one of Europe’s greatest Renaissance cities.

There is also a three minute film showing contemporary artists explaining the champlevé enamel technique and another showing a medieval woodcutting technique for making playing cards.

Audio points:
There are 14 audio points throughout the galleries where visitors can listen to period music especially recorded by The Royal College of Music. The music is also available for download from the V&A’s website.

11 objects on display are accompanied by audio-descriptions including poet, Simon Armitage reading a passage from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which describes a boar hunt. Visitors can listen at the audio-point whilst sitting in front of The Boar and Bear Hunt tapestry.

Discovery Areas:
There are two Discovery Areas (in ‘Devotion and Display’ and ‘Splendour and Society’) for a range of activities from dressing up in period costume to brass rubbing.

Style Guides:
Five guides explore the leading styles of the period covered in the galleries – Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism and Beyond-European influences. Each has information and images, and an interactive quiz.

Bonita Trust Study Area:
Access to all digital and audio material in the new galleries is available via the V&A’s website on eight computer terminals in the Bonita Trust Study Area, located within the central orientation hub of the new galleries. Visitors can use the Study Area to access the V&A’s recently launched Search the Collections database. This search facility provides detailed information, new research and photographs on each of the 1,800 objects on display. The Study Area also has an orientation timeline and an area with seating for rest and relaxation.

Notes to Editors:
Admission to the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries is free.

About The Bonita Trust:
The Bonita Trust ( is a philanthropic trust established under Gibraltar law in 2004 by a subsidiary of PartyGaming Plc, prior to its London Stock Exchange flotation in 2005.

Bonita has focused the majority of its community grant-making in the United Kingdom, India, Israel, and Gibraltar and has since inception, donated over £7.5million to charities leveraging technology to deliver programmes in the areas of education, health and entrepreneurship working in partnership with communities worldwide. Building on the digital and technology expertise of Bonita’s heritage, the Trust works closely with charities on the development of their websites and online communication in order to further their reach and aid their fundraising.

For further press information and images please contact the V&A Press Office on 020 7942 2502 /2500 or (not for publication)

For further press information on the Bonita Trust please contact Mary Glanville on 020 7731 8208 or info(at)bonitatrust(dot)org (not for publication)


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Mary Glanville
Visit website