V&A Exhibition Road Quarter Opens

The V&A’s new Exhibition Road entrance is open!

V&A Exhibition Road

It’s the largest project the museum has undertaken since 1909, including a new courtyard on Exhibition Road and a huge space underneath for major exhibitions.

Take a Closer Look…

The first thing that greets you is the Aston Webb Screen, first built in 1909. Originally it was an architectural trick to hide the museum’s Victorian boilers from passersby.

Now the 1,375 stones have been restored (they’re literally shining!) and modified to form a more welcoming, elegant entrance.

V&A Exhibition Road

Before you march into the courtyard, take a moment to inspect the screen. If you look closely you’ll spot pock marks and damage.

Rest assured, it’s not carelessness, but intentionally left bomb damage. It’s left “as a memorial to the enduring values of this great museum in a time of conflict.”

Then we see the courtyard.

V&A Exhibition Road

The design is by Amanda Levete and her practice, AL_A. 

V&A Exhibition Road

It’s the world’s first porcelain public courtyard – officially called The Sackler Courtyard – and is paved in 11,000 handmade tiles inspired by the V&A ceramic collection.

V&A Exhibition Road

Even the simplest of details become special; the metal grids to drain water have a gorgeous geometric pattern.

V&A Exhibition Road

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On the left is a slanted, glass covered cafe, while on the right is the Oculus. A skylight that allow natural light to stream into the Sainsbury Gallery.

V&A Exhibition Road

Currently the Oculus is part of a temporary exhibition by Simon Heijdens called Shade.

V&A Exhibition Road

Choreographed by the wind passing outside, the triangular shapes flicker between opaque and transparent creating a play of light and shadows in the gallery below.

The Sainsbury Gallery

Underneath the courtyard is a huge new exhibition space, totalling 1,100 square metres.

But the remarkable thing is that it appears to float, with no visible means of support.

V&A Exhibition Road

But it’s not all new…

I’ll admit that the new entrance wasn’t the most exciting part of this reveal for me.

Personally, I couldn’t wait to see the historic Ceramic Staircase again.

It’s been covered for a few years because it directly connects with the new Blavatnik Hall. But now it’s been restored to its former glory;

V&A Exhibition Road

It was designed by Frank Moody and his students in 1865, it’s the epitome of decoration. Now it’s brighter than ever, lurid even. But I can’t help revelling in its OTT-ness!

V&A Exhibition Road
V&A Exhibition Road

You can watch an artists’ impression video of the whole project made by the V&A here;

Entrance to the V&A is free. Find out more about visiting and what’s on here.

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V&A Exhibition Road

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