By Stuart Frost
The first meeting of the Concept Team, a group of four people whose role was to shape and steer the development of the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, took place in June 2002. The official opening of the galleries took place last week on the evening of Tuesday 1st December 2009.
On Wednesday 2nd December the galleries opened to the public. As I hadn’t been into the galleries over the final three weeks of work I was stunned to see how much had been achieved in such a short period of time. The last time I had walked through the spaces they were still very much a work in progress. Objects and cases were still being installed and there was a huge amount of work to do. When I walked into the spaces on the opening night I was stunned at the transformation. It was wonderful to see the galleries finally completed but also more than a little emotional. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that my role on the project, and that my time at the V&A, is over.
I’ve included some pictures from the opening night here. It was a very special occasion for the V&A and for everyone who has contributed to the project. I found it hard to believe that I was walking through the galleries and seeing the displays for the first time as the public would see them, rather than looking at design drawings on A3 sheets of paper. The evening also reminded me of just how many colleagues have been involved in the project over the years.
Perhaps the most exciting and nerve wracking moment for me was walking through the galleries on Saturday afternoon, a few days after the public opening, and watching people moving through the displays and interacting with objects. It was fascinating to look at their faces and to see how they were reacting. Some of the most beautiful, significant and inspiring art works in the Museum’s collections now on display and are there for visitors to discover and enjoy. It is exciting to think about the vast number of different experiences and responses that visitors will have in these new galleries over the coming years.