Head to the Dana centre. By day its a quiet cafe-bar; by evening its a venue for serious, fascinating discussions on science, technology and culture
The Two Cultures
Kensington is one of London’s most affluent boroughs. But while the luminous white houses and sprawling green spaces are lovely, the real attraction to living or visiting here are the cultural institutions. Kensington High Street is great for shopping, but you can do that elsewhere — what you won’t find anywhere else is the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The V&A opened in 1852 and was part of Prince Albert’s legacy to the nation following the Great Exhibition of 1851. Within these walls you will find the world’s largest collection of decorative arts, ranging from Chinese paintings to Middle Eastern rugs, furniture, fashion and Medieval religious art. The temporary exhibitions cut quite a contrast: in recent years they have focused on David Bowie, the designer Alexander McQueen and ‘disobedient objects’ from the world’s most famous protest movements.
A stone’s throw from the V&A is another of London’s highlights, the Natural History Museum. This colossal building captures that curious Victorian combination of wild adventure and bookish taxonomy. Bones, minerals, insects, plants and fossils are the order of the day. It’s amazing to watch children having such fun learning. Almost too much fun — if you want quieter reflection, you are better off visiting when they are likely to be stuck at school.
The French connection
Kensington is home to many of London’s European embassies, but it has a special connection to France. London is known as the twenty first arrondissement of Paris, such is the number of French people living here. Kensington is where they congregate, alongside the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, French Consulate, French Embassy Cultural Department. You’ll hear plenty of French on the streets!
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