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The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world.

The museum owns the world's largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy.

Overall, it is one of the largest museums in the world.

Since 2001, the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation programme, which has seen a major overhaul of the departments, including the introduction of newer galleries, gardens, shops and visitor facilities.

Queen Victoria's address during the ceremony, as recorded in the London Gazette, ended: "I trust that it will remain for ages a Monument of discerning Liberality and a Source of Refinement and Progress." The exhibition which the museum organised to celebrate the centennial of the 1899 renaming, "A Grand Design", first toured in North America from 1997 (Baltimore Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), returning to London in 1999.

Since then the museum has maintained its role of one of the world's greatest decorative arts collections.

This led to the transfer to the museum of the School of Design that had been founded in 1837 at Somerset House; after the transfer it was referred to as the Art School or Art Training School, later to become the Royal College of Art which finally achieved full independence in 1949.

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