The European cast courts is among our favourite pair of rooms at V&A, it's where spectacular works from around Europe have been recreated using casts — including a full scale version of Michelangelo's David.
The cast courts have re-opened after a significant refurb and they look superb. As an added bonus the central corridor is now accessible and contains an exhibition looking at the role of casts and how they're made, including some hands on versions that visitors can touch to get a feel for them.
To mark their re-opening we've picked out some of our favourite works in the Cast Courts:
Step inside a column
The massive cast courts may be 25 meters high but they aren't high enough to house a full size replica of Trajan's column in Rome. So the column has always been sliced and displayed in two halves. Part of the refurb was completed within the column so now visitors can step inside this cast, sit down and stare up at the enormity of it.
Nudity and Paradise
Not one, but two Florentine masterpieces stand side by side and there's more than physical closeness to link the two. Michelangelo's David towers over its peers — take a look round the back of the pedestal for a fig leaf that was used to cover his genitals when he was first displayed during a more prudish time.
Behind David are the shimmering gold gates of the Florence baptistery. They are so beautiful that Michelangelo himself once dubbed them the 'Gates of Paradise' and the name stuck. Nothing beats seeing these two beauties in Florence but here's a chance to save the air fare and enjoy them both without the crowds.
Philosophy celeb spotting
Being surrounded by stunning casts it's easy to forget the painting that sits high on the wall. It's a copy of Raphael's School of Athens, the ultimate celebrity get together as it contains a who's who of philosophy. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Pythagoras and Archimedes are all featured in this gathering whose collective IQ makes our brain melt just looking at it. Pro tip: it's better viewed from the upper walkway that goes between the two cast courts.
A tight fit
The Portico de la Gloria from the Cathedral of Santiago Compostela in Spain is carved with a plethora of biblical scenes. That this 17 meter cast just fits into the cast court is no coincidence as the court was designed to ensure it could hold of a copy of this specific piece. It was worth it as you could spend an hour walking along this cast and still miss some of the intricate detailing.
A bloody fountain
Who doesn't love a flair for drama? Perseus wearing his winged helmet holds up Medusa's head as her beheaded corpse lies underfoot. Try not to make eye contact or you may turn to stone. Maybe it's just us but this grisly scene is an odd fit for a fountain-topper, but then who cares if your local fountain looked this good?
These are just our five picks but there's so many more fantastic copies and casts across these two massive rooms. So get exploring and discover your own favourites.
The V&A Cast Courts are open to the public, are part of the permanent collection and free to visit.