The Victoria and Albert Museum has been given planning permission to create a new purpose-built underground gallery, courtyard area and entrance.
There are more visitors than ever before and
the project is intended to sustain this increasing audience.
Now approved by the Royal Borough of
Kensington and Chelsea, the scheme will transform a previously
inaccessible back-of-house space into an open courtyard for
installations, events and a café to create a new link between the
heart of the V&A and Exhibition Road.
From the new entrance lobby, the gallery
area will be accessed by a staircase with prominent views of the
museum's historic façades. The large, uninterrupted space will
allow the V&A to significantly improve the way it presents its
exhibition programme. The project will also reveal the Victorian
façades on the west side of the complex which have never been on
public view but are now restored to their former glory.
Levete, architects of the Selfridges
department store in Birmingham and the media centre at Lord's
Cricket Ground, won the international competition to design the
project in March 2011. The main building work should run from
2013-2015, with a public opening in 2016. Some £25m has now been
pledged out of a total project budget of £41m.
It allows the V&A to achieve the
long-term aims of the second phase of FuturePlan, creating
contemporary new settings for its outstanding collections while
restoring much of the building to its original Victorian
Meanwhile, as part of phase one of
FuturePlan, the museum has announced it will open a new furniture
gallery this December, providing a permanent home for an
internationally renowned collection.
The V&A has always displayed furniture
across its galleries, but this will be the first dedicated solely
to furniture and, they say, the only gallery worldwide devoted to a
comprehensive display of furniture, telling the story of its
production across six centuries. Some of the objects, more than 200
pieces of British and European furniture, from the Middle Ages to
the present day, as well as pieces from the Americas and Asia, have
not been on display for 30 years.
The gallery will tell the story of how
furniture was made and decorated over 600 years, exploring a
thematic range of materials and techniques ranging from joinery,
moulding, upholstery and digital manufacture, to carving,
marquetry, gilding and lacquer. It will focus on techniques of
construction and decoration and will include examples of how
conservation and analysis have revealed previously unknown
information about the way in which the objects were made and about
the people who made them.
On display will be a 15th century medieval
desk cupboard which reveals how English furniture-makers of the
time used oak sourced from 1500 miles away, and a bureau
(1780-1820) from Mexico, veneered with mother-of-pearl which would
have required craftsmen to saw shells for 5000 hours.
For the first time at the V&A, digital
labels will be used with touch screens to provide additional
content and context for each object.
The furniture gallery is fully funded with a
lead gift from an anonymous donor.