The V&A’s Cars: Accelerating the Modern World

Cut our owner, Juliette Loughran, down the middle and you’ll find she’s equal parts motorhead and art fan. It’s no surprise then that she was one of the first in the queue to see the V&A’s new major retrospective on the automobile. Here’s what she and its curator, Brendan Cormier, had to say on it…

The car has transformed how we move, as well as our experience of speed, forever changing our cities, environment and economies. The V&A’s latest exhibition examines how in just 130 years it has shaped the world we know today.


Cars Accelerating The Modern World C Victoria And Albert Museum London 5


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.”


Appealing to the motorhead in all of us, the exhibition brings together a wide selection of cars that have never been on display in the UK before, including the first production car in existence, the Benz Patent Motorwagen 3, a converted low-rider and 1950s concept car, and the Pop.Up Next autonomous flying car that’s been co-designed by Italdesign, Airbus and Audi and combines the four major innovations transforming the future of driving: electric power, autonomous driving, service-oriented, and flying. Think of it as a car crossed with a drone and the end to your traffic nightmares.


Cars Accelerating The Modern World C Victoria And Albert Museum London 17


Cars Accelerating The Modern World C Victoria And Albert Museum London


There are 15 cars and 250 objects on display in total across three main sections.


‘Going Fast’ explores the role of the automobile in imagining a future world of liberated movement and technological progress, bringing together 20th-century concept car designs, magazine illustrations, and even science-fiction references. ‘Making More’ looks at the role the car has played in modern manufacturing, turning production companies into global powerhouses, while ‘Shaping Space’ investigates its impact on the world’s landscape, nations, and cities.


Brendan Cormier said: “We would like audiences to walk away from the exhibition with a deeper understanding of the sheer magnitude and breadth of impact the automobile has had, often in surprising ways. How the automobile has changed the way we make things through streamlined mass production, to the impact on consumer culture and habits though the introduction of styling and annual models; how the car has changed our relationship to speed, but also our attitudes towards safety; how the car helped fuel both ideas of nationalism as well as globalisation, and how it has reordered both the physical realities of certain parts of the world through oil extraction, but also the geopolitics of the world through the broader oil economy.”


Juliette Loughran added: “My love affair with the V&A continues! I’ve always been a huge fan of the V&A’s collections and its latest exhibitions, Tim Walker: Wonderful Things and Cars: Accelerating the Modern World, are some of my all-time favourites. When the V&A announced this exhibition would combine my love of automobiles and art, you can imagine how quickly I wanted to get there. And it didn’t disappoint! It’s incredibly immersive, and the displays on the screens are not to be missed.”


Cars: Accelerating the Modern World will be at the V&A until 19 April 2020.