Museums
Look to the East

The V&A is creating two ground-breaking institutions in east London’s new cultural district, with the aim of attracting new audiences and transforming the museum experience


With the announcement of V&A East Museum’s first major exhibition – The Music is Black: A British Story – the V&A’s new east London outpost is beginning to feel a lot more real.

Together with the V&A East Storehouse, the V&A East Museum represents one of the UK’s biggest museum development projects for decades. Both are set to open in 2025, part of the Mayor of London’s £1.1 billion East Bank project to create a new cultural and education district on the site of the former Olympic Park. The site will also include a new Sadler’s Wells dance theatre, BBC studios and UAL’s London College of Fashion.

V&A East Museum
V&A East Museum is set on the waterfront, in a five-storey building designed by architects O’Donnell + Tuomey inspired by a Balenciaga dress.

With a mission to make the arts accessible for all, the museum will host major exhibitions, festivals, commissions, installations, live performances, pop ups and late-night events.

With galleries designed around a central core, the building will feature two public entrances, a publicly accessible roof terrace and a cafe. The main exhibition hall will present the museum’s shows by leading artists, designers and performers, while two collection galleries will feature new acquisitions, commissions and live shows alongside collection displays. An installation and events space on the top floor will act as the focal point for V&A East’s global partnerships programme, hosting interdisciplinary collaborations, new commissions and events.

Gus Casely-Hayford, director of the V&A East, has set out plans to ensure the new museum is welcoming to those who might have previously felt excluded from museum spaces, and to reflect the diversity of the surrounding boroughs.

“We have devised a tour where we take museum objects out into schools and colleges for a series of workshops, assembly talks and handling sessions,” said Casely-Hayford, writing for the Museums Association. “We feel that this is giving these world-class objects back to the communities for which they are, ultimately, held in trust. We hope this will give local young people the chance to experience museum objects up close, learn about the stories behind them and about the careers and skills available to them in the museum sector – to inspire the next generation and future workforce.

“My early museum memories were of distance and barriers. We want to change that by building an environment in which we can expose young people to truly exceptional things, giving them the knowledge and skills to learn about context, tradition and technique, wherever possible, through hands-on contact. We want to build connections across geography and time, and perhaps inspire them in their own practice to use this vast open sourcebook as a catalyst for their dreams.”

V&A East Storehouse
A 10 minute walk across the park from the V&A East Museum, the huge glass and brick V&A East Storehouse promises to be a new kind of museum collections facility.

When the government announced plans to sell Blythe House, which housed collections and archives for the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the British Museum and the Science Museum, the V&A saw an opportunity to bring its collections to new audiences.

When the V&A East Storehouse opens, it will display 250,000 objects, 1,000 archives and 350,000 books in a 16,000sq m building designed by Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The collection will be stored across four floors and in a cavernous central hall, while further spaces will host pop-up displays, workshops, performances and screenings.

Unusually for a museum storage facility, much of the building will be open access, meaning that the public can come in freely and view the collection. The building has been designed so that visitors will feel as though they are at the centre of the collection.

“With its open central space, and glass balustrades and floor, you will feel as if you have literally been immersed into the collection,” said Casely-Hayford. “We would like it to be a space that is loved by the academic and museum communities, but we also want the people of east London, particularly the young, to feel that this is a place that they can use and be comfortable in.

“This space will revolutionise access to our collections by providing an unprecedented platform from which to tell new stories of theatre, performance, art and design.”

Objects on display will range from a pair of ancient Egyptian woven shoes and beautiful buttons made by 20th century studio potter Lucie Rie to a 1930s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed office – the only complete Frank Lloyd Wright interior outside of the US.

The building was completed in May 2023 and is due to open to the public in spring 2025.

Image: Victoria & Albert Museum, London

"My early museum memories were of distance and barriers. We want to change that by building an environment in which we can expose young people to truly exceptional things" – Gus Casely-Hayford

The design of the V&A East Museum was inspired by the form of a Balenciaga dress Credit: Image: © O’Donnell + Tuomey, Ninety90, 2018
The V&A East Storehouse has been designed by Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro Credit: Image: © Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The new building will allow the public to view artefacts from the V&A’s collection Credit: Image: © Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The V&A Storehouse will feature an open central space surrounded by artefacts Credit: Image: © Diller Scofidio + Renfro
 


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14 Apr 2024 Leisure Management: daily news and jobs
 
 
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SELECTED ISSUE
Attractions Management
2024 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Look to the East

Museums

Look to the East


The V&A is creating two ground-breaking institutions in east London’s new cultural district, with the aim of attracting new audiences and transforming the museum experience

Architects O’Donnell and Tuomey designed the V&A East Museum Image: © O’Donnell + Tuomey, Ninety90, 2018
The design of the V&A East Museum was inspired by the form of a Balenciaga dress Image: © O’Donnell + Tuomey, Ninety90, 2018
The V&A East Storehouse has been designed by Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro Image: © Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The new building will allow the public to view artefacts from the V&A’s collection Image: © Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The V&A Storehouse will feature an open central space surrounded by artefacts Image: © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

With the announcement of V&A East Museum’s first major exhibition – The Music is Black: A British Story – the V&A’s new east London outpost is beginning to feel a lot more real.

Together with the V&A East Storehouse, the V&A East Museum represents one of the UK’s biggest museum development projects for decades. Both are set to open in 2025, part of the Mayor of London’s £1.1 billion East Bank project to create a new cultural and education district on the site of the former Olympic Park. The site will also include a new Sadler’s Wells dance theatre, BBC studios and UAL’s London College of Fashion.

V&A East Museum
V&A East Museum is set on the waterfront, in a five-storey building designed by architects O’Donnell + Tuomey inspired by a Balenciaga dress.

With a mission to make the arts accessible for all, the museum will host major exhibitions, festivals, commissions, installations, live performances, pop ups and late-night events.

With galleries designed around a central core, the building will feature two public entrances, a publicly accessible roof terrace and a cafe. The main exhibition hall will present the museum’s shows by leading artists, designers and performers, while two collection galleries will feature new acquisitions, commissions and live shows alongside collection displays. An installation and events space on the top floor will act as the focal point for V&A East’s global partnerships programme, hosting interdisciplinary collaborations, new commissions and events.

Gus Casely-Hayford, director of the V&A East, has set out plans to ensure the new museum is welcoming to those who might have previously felt excluded from museum spaces, and to reflect the diversity of the surrounding boroughs.

“We have devised a tour where we take museum objects out into schools and colleges for a series of workshops, assembly talks and handling sessions,” said Casely-Hayford, writing for the Museums Association. “We feel that this is giving these world-class objects back to the communities for which they are, ultimately, held in trust. We hope this will give local young people the chance to experience museum objects up close, learn about the stories behind them and about the careers and skills available to them in the museum sector – to inspire the next generation and future workforce.

“My early museum memories were of distance and barriers. We want to change that by building an environment in which we can expose young people to truly exceptional things, giving them the knowledge and skills to learn about context, tradition and technique, wherever possible, through hands-on contact. We want to build connections across geography and time, and perhaps inspire them in their own practice to use this vast open sourcebook as a catalyst for their dreams.”

V&A East Storehouse
A 10 minute walk across the park from the V&A East Museum, the huge glass and brick V&A East Storehouse promises to be a new kind of museum collections facility.

When the government announced plans to sell Blythe House, which housed collections and archives for the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the British Museum and the Science Museum, the V&A saw an opportunity to bring its collections to new audiences.

When the V&A East Storehouse opens, it will display 250,000 objects, 1,000 archives and 350,000 books in a 16,000sq m building designed by Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The collection will be stored across four floors and in a cavernous central hall, while further spaces will host pop-up displays, workshops, performances and screenings.

Unusually for a museum storage facility, much of the building will be open access, meaning that the public can come in freely and view the collection. The building has been designed so that visitors will feel as though they are at the centre of the collection.

“With its open central space, and glass balustrades and floor, you will feel as if you have literally been immersed into the collection,” said Casely-Hayford. “We would like it to be a space that is loved by the academic and museum communities, but we also want the people of east London, particularly the young, to feel that this is a place that they can use and be comfortable in.

“This space will revolutionise access to our collections by providing an unprecedented platform from which to tell new stories of theatre, performance, art and design.”

Objects on display will range from a pair of ancient Egyptian woven shoes and beautiful buttons made by 20th century studio potter Lucie Rie to a 1930s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed office – the only complete Frank Lloyd Wright interior outside of the US.

The building was completed in May 2023 and is due to open to the public in spring 2025.

Image: Victoria & Albert Museum, London

"My early museum memories were of distance and barriers. We want to change that by building an environment in which we can expose young people to truly exceptional things" – Gus Casely-Hayford


Originally published in Attractions Management 2024 issue 1

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