V&A East director unveils vision for new museum

A museum and a new collection and research centre are being developed on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, east London.
A museum and a new collection and research centre are being developed on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, east London.

The director of Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) East Bank site has said he wants to foster the next generation of Alexander McQueens with the new project.

Gus Casely-Hayford also said the ambition of V&A East is to champion diversity, the local community, and young people.

The project is creating two interconnected sites in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, east London – a brand new museum at Stratford Waterfront and a collection and research centre at Here East.

V&A East
Director of V&A East Gus Casely-Hayford has unveiled his vision for the project (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Mr Casely-Hayford said: “We are shaping a new creative campus and social space, and by working closely in partnership with our local communities, will highlight the cultural dynamism, youth and creativity of east London.

“We want to amplify the role museums play as a platform for discovery, hope and conversation in our rapidly changing world, to help foster the next generation of Alexander McQueens.”

The project has consulted with more than 20,000 local people and they have appointed design collective Resolve as the first Youth Workers in Residence, and they will run workshops with local young people to better understand their relationship with the area.

They have also launched the V&A East Youth Collective Programme, a six-month paid advisory opportunity for east Londoners aged 16-25 to help directly shape the new institution.

V&A East
Director of V&A East Gus Casely-Hayford with artworks newly acquired for the site (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The project’s first acquisitions include a monumental portrait by artist Kehinde Wiley of east Londoner Melissa Thompson; the Daria gown by fashion designer Molly Goddard, who has created outfits for Beyonce and Jodie Comer’s character Villanelle in Killing Eve; and a ceramic vessel by Nigerian-born and London-raised artist Ranti Bam.

Tim Reeve, the V&A’s deputy director and chief operating officer, said the “catastrophic impact” of Covid-19 has “made this project more urgent as a driver for cultural tourism, economic recovery, creative opportunity and as a major new creative resource for east London and the UK”.

He added: “Despite the challenges of Covid-19, construction is well under way on both V&A East sites, with the assembly of the steel frame at V&A East Museum, and the formation of the unique public spaces at V&A East Storehouse.

“Together, they will open up the national collections in ways never possible before, enabling us to reach new audiences in one of the most creative and culturally diverse parts of the UK.”

The original V&A was established in South Kensington in 1852 and is deemed the world’s leading museum of art and design.

The new V&A East Storehouse, which plans to open at Here East in 2024, will provide an immersive visitor experience and rehome 250,000 objects and 1,000 archives from the V&A’s 2.3 million collection.

V&A East
Molly Goddard’s ‘Daria’ dress is one of the newly-acquired artworks for V&A East (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A 10-minute walk away at Stratford Waterfront, a five-storey museum will showcase current leading artists, designers and performers and provide a space for exhibitions, festivals, immersive installations and live performances.

The Here East design is led by New York-based practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro while the Stratford Waterfront has been designed by Dublin-based architects O’Donnell + Tuomey.

Designer McQueen, who became a major figure in the fashion industry and UK culture, took his own life in 2010.