A new museum in East London, a unique partnership between the V&A and the Smithsonian Institution, will provide a purpose-built home for 250,000 objects and an additional 917 archives.
The V&A East project will create two interconnected sites in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a brand-new museum at Stratford Waterfront, and a new collection and research centre at Here East.
Among the major exhibits going on display at the Collection and Research Centre in Stratford is a Thirties office interior designed by US architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and a 15th-century carved wooden ceiling from a Spanish palace that was last seen 25 years ago.
Architect Elizabeth Diller said: “Planned from the inside-out, V&A East will be like stepping into an immersive cabinet of curiosities – a three-dimensional sampling of the eclectic collection of artefacts, programmed with diverse spaces for research, object study, workshops, and back-of-house functions.”
The new collection and research centre will reinvent the idea of a museum store. Visitors will be invited on behind-the-scenes journeys that reveal 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.
Tim Reeve, deputy director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, said the V&A East scheme, would “for the first time illuminate the entire life cycle” of the institution.
With a design led by New York-based practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro (supported by Austin-Smith:Lord), the collection and research centre will bring treasures out of storage and into public view for the first time in generations.
The Chief Curator, Catherine Ince, of V&A East said: “V&A East represents an extraordinary opportunity to open-up the V&A's collection to all: as a vital sourcebook for infinite creative possibilities, as a place where young people can develop their creative skills and critical thinking, and as a platform to interrogate the ideas of our time through the designed world past and present. To ensure V&A East is rooted in its neighbourhood by the time it opens in 2023, we will continue to build relationships across the Olympic boroughs, and test ideas through conversation and collaborative creative projects. With local people helping shape its vision and programmes, V&A East will be a place for everyone representative of the cultures, communities and creativity of east London and beyond."
The new centre 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. 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 rooted in its local neighbourhood and global in outlook.
Image: Internal render view of the central public collection hall in the new V&A collection and research centre at Here East, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. © Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018