Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate "role of the car" in new exhibition

"No other object has impacted the world more than the automobile"

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is more associated with exhibitions of important fashion, art and design but a new exhibition is set to chronicle the impact of the motor car during its 130-year history.

Cars: Accelerating the Modern World, which opens to the public on November 23, will chart the car’s integral role in shaping the modern world and how it has “accelerated the pace of change over the past century”.

The core collection of 15 cars, many of which are appearing in the UK for the first time, will be used to tell wider stories about design and their influence on the world.

There will also be an additional 250 items that help illustrate the role of the automobile in areas such as fashion, popular culture and societal values, and how new developments in technology and design are fundamentally transforming the future of driving.

Highlights of the automotive wonders that will be on display include the Benz Patent Motorwagen that’s part of the neighbouring Science Museum’s collection, General Motors’ wacky jet fighter-inspired Firebird design study from 1953, and the futuristic Pop.Up flying car concept that ItalDesign has created in collaboration with Audi and Airbus.

While the exhibition celebrates the role of the car on the modern world, the V&A says it won’t shy away from areas that don’t show motoring in its best light. For example, a film compares the original promise of the car as a symbol of freedom and efficiency to the unintended environmental and congestion consequences.

Curator Brendan Cormier said: “The V&A’s mission is to champion the power of design to change the world, and no other design object has impacted the world more than the automobile.

“This exhibition is about the power of design to effect change, and the unintended consequences that have contributed to our current environmental situation.”