London museum opens medieval, Renaissance galleries

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The Independent Online

London's Victoria and Albert Museum unveils a new glimpse into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance on Wednesday with 10 large new galleries of treasures from the past.

The free-to-enter 30-million-pound (50-million-dollar) Medieval and Renaissance Galleries occupy an entire wing of the museum after seven years of work.

"The new galleries present some of the world's greatest treasures in beautifully designed galleries that we hope will inspire all our visitors," said V and A director Mark Jones.

Highlights of more than 1,800 objects include Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, with an interactive display planned so that visitors can turn the pages on a nearby screen.

The collection also includes "the largest and most splendid" enamelled casket dedicated to the murdered English archbishop Saint Thomas a Becket, dated at around 1180.

The museum said the casket is probably the earliest of several commemorating the saint and is likely to have held his relics.

The galleries boast more than 1,000 years of European artistic and social history - including chunks of buildings, huge sculptures and stained glass windows.