Albertopolis is a nickname for the area centered around
South Kensington, London, England, between Cromwell Roadand Kensington Gore, which contains a large number of educational and cultural sites, including
Imperial College London
Natural History Museum
Royal Albert Hall
Royal College of Art
Royal College of Music
Royal Geographical Society
Victoria and Albert Museum
and the following, which were originally institutions in their own right:
Geological Museum, now a subsidiary of the Natural History Museum
Royal School of Mines, now a subsidiary of Imperial College
Institutions formerly in Albertopolis include:
Royal College of Organists, from 1904 to 1991.
Royal School of Naval Architecture, from 1864 to 1873.
Royal School of Needlework, from 1903 to 1987.
The area was purchased by the
Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851with the profits made from the Great Exhibitionof 1851, which was held in a site in Hyde Park nearby to the north-east. This is commemorated in the name of the principal north-south street laid out on their estate, Exhibition Road.
Prince Albert was a driving force behind the Great Exhibition and President of the Royal Commission, and the name "Albertopolis" seems to have been coined in the 1850s to celebrate and somewhat satirise his role in Victorian cultural life. After his death the term fell into disuse, and the area was more widely referred to as
South Kensington. It was revived by architectural historians in the 1960s and popularised by the nascent conservation movement to bring attention to the complex of public Victorian buildings and the surrounding houses built on the Commissioners' estate, that were threatened with demolition by the expansion and redevelopment plans of Imperial College.
There is a central axis between the
Albert Memorialin Kensington Gardensto the north, and the central portal of the south façade of the Natural History Museum. The Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Music, the former tower of the otherwise demolished Imperial Institute (now the Queen's Tower of Imperial College London) and the 1950s rear extension to the Science Museum are all aligned on this axis, which cannot be seen on the ground. This regular geometric alignment of Albertopolis can only be observed readily from the balconies of the Queen's Tower (very rarely open to visitors) although the northern part can be glimpsed from the top floor of the Science Museum.
The closest tube station is South Kensington which is linked to the museums by a tiled tunnel beneath Exhibition Road constructed in 1885. This tunnel originally continued as a covered route to the south porch of the Royal Albert Hall via a second tunnel (now used as the Imperial College London shooting range) before emerging into the arcades and conservatory of the former gardens of the
Royal Horticultural Society.
* F. H. W. Sheppard (editor), " [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.asp?pubid=364 Survey of London: volume 38: South Kensington Museums Area] " (1975). Originally published by the Athlone Press for the Greater London Council. Available online as part of [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/ British History Online] .
Charles Wentworth Dilke
Museum Mile, London
Ismaili Centreto the south
Serpentine Galleryin Hyde Parkto the north
* [http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/acrobat_pdf/architecture/tour_of_exhibition_road.pdf Victoria and Albert Museum walking tour of Albertopolis]
* [http://www.royalcommission1851.org.uk/ Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851]
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