The Victoria and Albert Museum has announced its ambitious ‘V&A East’ plans to create two interconnected sites in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. V&A East will include a brand-new museum at Stratford Waterfront designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey and, a new collection and research centre at Here East by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Scheduled to open in 2023, the £1.1 billion development 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.
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. 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.
At Here East, 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. The centre will be a purpose-built home for 250,000 objects and an additional 917 archives spanning the breadth of our collections.
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.
A central public collection hall will turn the store inside out, with a rich array of objects on display for visitors to explore. Highlights will include Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1930s office for Edgar J. Kaufmann – a unique and complete 20th-century plywood interior – and a 15th-century marquetry ceiling from the now-destroyed Altamira Palace near Toledo, Spain, which will be resurrected within the centre as a real architectural element above a new public space for displays and events.
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.
Ten minutes’ walk away at Stratford Waterfront, a five-storey museum designed by Dublin-based architects O’Donnell + Tuomey will provide a panoramic view of the designed world, and offer contemporary and cross-cultural perspectives through its diverse programming.
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, and deploying the collections of two world-renowned cultural institutions to reflect issues and themes that resonate with contemporary society.
The inaugural exhibition in 2023 will be a world-first co-production by the V&A and the Smithsonian, after which the Smithsonian will present one in four exhibitions at the museum.