Albertopolis is the area centred on Exhibition Road containing a large number of educational and cultural sites. It is considered within the district of South Kensington, split between the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, London, bordered by Cromwell Road to the south and Kensington Road to the north. Institutions include:
The following, which were originally institutions in their own right:
Institutions formerly in Albertopolis include:
Recent additions to Albertopolis:
Following the advice of Prince Albert the area was purchased by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 with the profits made from the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was held in a site in Hyde Park nearby to the north-east. This is commemorated in the name of the principal north-south street laid out on their estate, Exhibition Road.
Prince Albert was a driving force behind the Great Exhibition and President of the Royal Commission, and the name "Albertopolis" seems to have been coined in the 1850s to celebrate and somewhat satirise his role in Victorian cultural life. After his death the term fell into disuse, and the area was more widely referred to as South Kensington. It was revived by architectural historians in the 1960s and popularised by the nascent conservation movement to bring attention to the complex of public Victorian buildings and the surrounding houses built on the Commissioners' estate, that were threatened with demolition by the expansion and redevelopment plans of Imperial College. Among the buildings threatened was the Imperial Institute, designed by T. E. Collcutt.
There is a central axis between the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens to the north, and the central portal of the south façade of the Natural History Museum. The Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Music, the former tower of the otherwise demolished Imperial Institute (now the Queen's Tower of Imperial College London) and the 1950s rear extension to the Science Museum are all aligned on this axis, which cannot be seen on the ground. This regular geometric alignment of Albertopolis can only be observed readily from the balconies of the Queen's Tower (very rarely open to visitors) although the northern part can be glimpsed from the top floor of the Science Museum.
The closest tube station is South Kensington which is linked to the museums by a tiled tunnel beneath Exhibition Road constructed in 1885. This tunnel originally continued as a covered route to the south porch of the Royal Albert Hall via a second tunnel (subsequently used for a period as Imperial College's shooting range) before emerging into the arcades and conservatory of the former gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society.