The building of the Victoria and Albert Museum, begun in 1857, is the most elaborately designed and decorated museum in Britain. This book is the first to consider the V&A as a work of art in itself, presenting drawings, watercolours and historic photographs relating to the Museum's 19th-century interiors. Much of this visual material is previously unpublished and is outside the canon of Victorian art and design. The V&A's first Director, Henry Cole, conceived the Museum's building as a showcase for leading Victorian artists to design and decorate. This book reveals for the first time the ways in which Cole's expressed policy to 'assemble a splendid collection of objects representing the application of Fine Arts to manufacture' was applied to the fabric of the building, as he engaged leading painters such as Frederic Leighton , G.F. Watts and Edward Burne-Jones, as well as specialists in decoration such as Owen Jones and Morris and Company, to decorate and design for a building raised by engineers using innovatory materials and techniques.It represents a fascinating, untold chapter in the history of British 19th-century art, design, architecture and museums, and an essential backdrop to understanding the evolution of the Museum's early collections and identity.