Smithsonian and the V&A are opening a massive exhibition space in London
By Victoriana Toolan | Art | 7 July 2016

‘Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty’ exhibition at the V&A 2015. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Top image: ‘Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty’ exhibition at the V&A  2015. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Smithsonian has announced a major collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum to establish a joint exhibition space in East London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Remodelling initial plans to open its own bespoke London building (its first base outside the US in its 170 year history), the Smithsonian will now be a partner in the V&A’s pre-planned 18,000 square metre building in London’s Olympic Park, named Olympicopolis. Sadler’s Well, London College of Fashion and University College London will also be involved in the new venture as separate outposts across the city.

An artist’s impression of the Olympic Park site, with V&A East on the far right Allies and Morrison (via Evening Standard)

“Growing London’s cultural sector is one of my core priorities as mayor, so I welcome this trans-Atlantic collaboration between two of the world’s most prestigious institutions,” said London mayor Sadiq Khan. “These plans would create an exciting new cultural venue in east London, which will help many more people enjoy the extraordinary collections managed by the Smithsonian and the V&A. It is great news for everyone who wants to see London’s cultural and creative sectors even bigger and better,” he added.

As the largest Museum collective in America, the Smithsonian boasts a vast archive ranging across art and culture – from the original ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz film in 1939 to prehistoric skeletons. “[The Smithsonian is] a great institution, enormous, with an incredible collection that is complementary to ours (and) it seemed obvious to us from early on that some of the subjects we were keen to investigate would be better done together,” said Tim Reeve, deputy director and chief operating officer of Victoria & Albert.

Olympicopolis aims to be open to the public in 2022 and with a name like that, it’s bound to be pretty epic.

Gallery: Exhibitions at the V&A and Smithsonian



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