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Golden age of ocean liners comes to life at the V&A

The V&A Museum in London is set to launch an exhibition remembering the golden age of ocean travel.
‘Ocean Liners: Speed & Style’ will explore the cultural and social impact of the ocean liner, from architectural design and art to groundbreaking feats of engineering.

"The great age of ocean liners has long passed but no form of transport has been so romantic or so remarkable," said exhibition curator Ghislaine Wood.

"Three years in the making, this exhibition will show how liners have shaped the modern world in many ways."

An original panel from the Titanic's First Class Lounge

The exhibition will feature more than 250 rare and remarkable objects, many of which will be shown in Europe for the very first time.

These include original wall panels and furniture, vintage posters, art, sculpture and fashion, along with ship models and original shipyard designs.

Amongst the highlights are a panel fragment from the Titanic’s first class lounge, returning to the U.K for the first time since the ship’s doomed maiden voyage in 1912; a Cartier tiara recovered from the Lusitania, which was sunk by a German submarine in 1915; an interior panel from the Smoking Room of the French liner Normandie; and the Duke of Windsor’s personal luggage, diaplyed for the first time since leaving the Windsor estate.

Left: The Duke of Windsor's travelling trunks. Right: a children's chair from the first-class playroom on the Normandie

These objects will help trace the evolution of ocean travel, from Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s steamship the Great Eastern, to the grand Titanic and its sister ship the Olympic; the Art Deco palaces of the Queen Mary and the Normandie, and the mid-century masterpieces SS United States and the QE2.

"I’m delighted that this dazzling exhibition, the first of its kind to explore the international design and cultural impact of the ocean liner, will be the V&A’s first major exhibition of 2018," said Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A.

"This seminal show will reveal hidden design stories of some of the world’s most luxurious liners, from the Titanic to the Normandie and QE2. We have collected ship-related objects and ephemera for well over 100 years, and now have a startlingly brilliant collection of ocean liner material, making us uniquely placed to present this exhibition."

‘Ocean Liners: Speed & Style’ opens to the public on February 3, 2018.

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