Smithsonian and V&A collaborate on UK gallery - Museums Association

Smithsonian and V&A collaborate on UK gallery

Exhibition space planned for Olympic park
The Smithsonian Institution has confirmed plans to create a permanent exhibition space in the UK in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

The gallery will be a key part of V&A East, the seven-storey museum being built at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.

It will be the Smithsonian’s first long-term development outside the US. The institution currently oversees 19 museums and nine research facilities in the US, and holds an estimated 138 million objects in its collections, spanning a wide range of subjects including science, humanities and the arts.

Exhibitions and related programming in the gallery will be curated jointly by the Smithsonian and the V&A, drawing on the expertise and collections of both institutions.

A spokeswoman from the Smithsonian said it is not yet confirmed which artefacts and artworks from institution's collections would go to V&A East. "It may be a more innovative space and not as artefact-rich as traditional museums," she said.

There is no estimated cost for the project yet, according to the spokeswoman. "The private sector fundraising will be done by Smithsonian for our exhibitions, whether they are collaborations or separate Smithsonian programmes," she said. The V&A will pay the lease and operating costs of the building.

The project will be supported by private sector donations raised through the Foundation for FutureLondon, a charity set up to coordinate fundraising for the overall redevelopment of the Olympic park, which is being transformed into a hub for culture and the creative industries.

The Smithsonian’s secretary David Skorton said the venue would more than a “Smithsonian outpost in London”.
“It would be a collaboration with the V&A, giving both of us opportunities to engage with diverse audiences in innovative ways,” said Skorton.

“This proposed collaboration represents an exciting opportunity for us to explore the synergies between two world-class institutions and their collections and knowledge,” said the V&A’s deputy director and chief operating officer Tim Reeve.

The V&A and the Smithsonian expect to have a formal agreement in place by the end of the year.

The V&A East development is scheduled to open in 2021. The government has invested £141m in the project.


Article updated to include more information and a comment from the Smithsonian.

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