WHO'S COMING TO EAST BANK: V&A AND THE SMITHSONIAN

Neighbouring International Quarter London (IQL), East Bank is set to be London’s new creative mecca, as some of the UK’s leading cultural institutions move to the heart of Stratford.

One of these cultural heavyweights is the V&A, set to open at the waterfront location in 2023.
Founded in 1852, the V&A is the world’s largest museum dedicated to art and design. The new East London museum will be part of the V&A’s new “V&A East Project”. The V&A waterfront museum will also be opening a new collection and research centre at Here East.

This centre will be a new way for people to engage with the past. Visitors will take part in guided tours which explain how objects are collected, the curation process and the responsibilities of looking after artefacts. And there will be no shortage of things to see. The centre will be home to 250,000 artefacts and 917 archives.

The Museum itself at Stratford Waterfront will be five storeys and feature two main galleries alongside a range of exhibitions. One permanent exhibition will be a joint venture with The Smithsonian – America’s leading group of museums, galleries and research centres. The exhibition will be jointly curated by both organisations upon opening, and thereafter The Smithsonian will have one of four exhibitions within one of the best museums in London.

Both venues will be open to the public and a diverse programme of events will engage visitors with a wide range of topics. The V&A has already rolled out a local programme to engage with the community of Stratford.

Some of the most notable items displayed will include:

Edgar J. Kauffmann’s office

Edgar J. Kauffmann was a wealthy philanthropist and American department store owner. His home office was designed by prominent American “Organic Architect” Frank Lloyd Wright. The complete office will be displayed at the collection and research centre. 

15th century marquetry ceiling

Hung above the event space, a 15th Century Marquetry Ceiling from the Palacio de Altamira will be visible to visitors. Composed of wood and gold, the ceiling features Islamic geometric patterns with a sprinkling of Christian symbolism. 

20th century Russian ballet backdrop

The backdrop was created by Natalia Goncharova for a production of Diaghilev’s ballet, The Firebird. The production took place at The Lyceum Theatre in London in 1926. Goncharova was a well-known avante-garde, Russian artist. She specialised in costumes, set-design, painting and illustration.

Find out more about the V&A and the existing exhibitions at their museum in Knightsbridge.