V&A plans two satellite sites at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
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V&A plans two satellite sites at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

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The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has unveiled plans to create two interconnected sites at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – a brand-new museum at Stratford Waterfront, and a new collection and research centre at Here East.

Describing the move as "revolutionising how its collection of art is accessed and explored", the project has been named V&A East. The V&A's main site is located in Kensington, London and is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design – housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects.

The two sites are scheduled to open in 2023 as part of East Bank, a £1.1bn mixed-use development which will include cultural, educational and innovation projects as part of the London's Olympic legacy.

"V&A East will provide a 360-degree view of the V&A, and illuminate the breadth of its work in ways that have not been realised before", a spokesperson for the V&A said.

"Situated within the vibrant creative hub of east London and surrounded by four of the city’s fastest-growing and most diverse boroughs, V&A East will be firmly rooted in its local neighbourhood and global in outlook."

V&A East will also host a unique and unprecedented partnership between the V&A and the Smithsonian Institution – the largest museum and research complex in the world.

The Here East building will house a new collection and research centre designed to "reinvent the idea of a museum store".

Visitors will be invited on behind-the-scenes journeys that uncover and demonstrate how and why objects are collected, how they are cared for, conserved, researched and displayed, and how they help make sense of our past, present and future.

The centre will be a purpose-built home for 250,000 objects and an additional 917 archives spanning the breadth of the V&A’s collection from fashion, textiles, furniture, theatre and performance, to painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, design, architecture, and digital.

With a design led by New York-based practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro – supported by architects Austin-Smith:Lord – the collection and research centre will include items currently in storage, bringing them out into public view for the first time in generations.

A central public collection hall will turn the store inside out, with a rich array of objects on rotating display for visitors to explore – from some of the V&A’s smallest curiosities to the largest and most significant rooms and building fragments in the collection.

Further spaces within the centre will host pop-up displays, workshops, performances and screenings alongside live encounters with the museum’s work – from conservation and research to exhibition preparation.

A dedicated viewing gallery will be created to showcase a changing display of rarely-seen large rolled objects from the V&A’s collection of theatre stage cloths, carpets, textiles, tapestries and paintings.

The second building, on Stratford Waterfront, will be a five-storey museum designed by Dublin-based architects O’Donnell + Tuomey.

It will provide a panoramic view of the designed world, and offer contemporary and cross-cultural perspectives.

Two galleries will showcase the full range of the V&A’s collections and a programme of major exhibitions will sit alongside new commissions, installations and interdisciplinary collaborations and projects.

A pioneering partnership with the Smithsonian Institution will deliver an innovative exhibition programme and a jointly-curated gallery at the Waterfront, bridging art, design, science and the humanities.

The museum’s inaugural exhibition in 2023 will be a world-first co-production by the V&A and the Smithsonian, after which the latter will present one in four exhibitions at the museum.

“As London’s centre of gravity extends east, our plans for East Bank make sure that high-quality culture and education are right at the heart of the development and of our Olympic legacy," said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.

“By bringing large parts of its vast programme to two new sites at East Bank, the V&A will open up access to the world’s greatest collection of art, design and performance.”

Culture secretary Jeremy Wright added: “As one of our world-class museums, the V&A showcases Britain's cultural history around the globe. These ambitious plans will bring the museum and its vast collection to new audiences and help continue the economic regeneration that East London has undergone since 2012."

The £1.1bn East Bank project is receiving £385m from the Mayor of London and £151m from the central government. It will be spread across three sites – UCL East (UCL’s new campus), Stratford Waterfront (BBC, the V&A, Sadler’s Wells and UAL’s London College of Fashion) and Here East (the V&A's new collection and research centre, and an existing space for UCL).

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The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has unveiled plans to create two interconnected sites at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – a brand-new museum at Stratford Waterfront, and a new collection and research centre at Here East.
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