After its largest construction project to date, the Exhibition Road Quarter of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), in London, is set to open this Friday with new civic and gallery spaces designed by Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete, founder and principal of local firm AL_A architects.
The new spaces in the museum include the Sainsbury Gallery, a venue intended for temporary exhibitions, Blavatnik Hall and the Aston Webb Screen—both serving as new entrances aimed to enhance the visitor experience—as well as the Sackler Courtyard, the first porcelain courtyard in the world, paved with 11,000 handmade tiles. The courtyard will open to the public along with a café and furniture also designed by AL_A.
The introduction of the courtyard will also unveil façades of the building never before seen by the public. Some of these details include sgraffito decoration (a decorative Renaissance plaster technique from the late 19th century) on the Henry Cole Wing, and stonework along the Aston Webb Screen displaying shrapnel damage the museum sustained during World War II.
“This is a landmark moment in our history." said Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, in a release by the museum. "The V&A Exhibition Road Quarter is both the museum’s largest architectural intervention in over one hundred years and the start of a new chapter of expansion.”
The completion of the renovation is a major moment for the institution, especially after winning the Art Fund Museum of the Year award, given by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, in 2016. A free, week-long reveal festival invites the public to celebrate the museum’s new spaces from June 30 to July 7.
Correction: This story misstated the number of porcelain tiles in the courtyard. There are 11,000 tiles, not 1,000. ARCHITECT regrets the error.