This week sees the launch of a new ‘micro museum’, which has opened to the public in a disused retail space in Poplar’s Chrisp Street Market, on the Lansbury Estate in East London. Created by the V&A, the space will host a series of exhibitions over coming months that explore the importance of the Estate as a microcosm of planning ideas for London, revealing the original ambitions of its past and considering the aspirations for its future.
Over the coming year, the Lansbury Micro Museum will present three exhibitions about the local area: from the estate’s conception as an ideal neighbourhood in the aftermath of the Second World War, through the impact of modernisation and industrial change, to the plans for population growth over the next decade. By inviting direct contributions from residents it will consider how life there has changed over time, and how it might change again. What were the external influences that guided the estate’s creation and growth, and will they remain or evolve in the future?
The neighbourhood was created in the run up to the 1951 Festival of Britain, and was a legacy of London County Council’s progressive ‘County of London Plan’ 0f 1943. Close to 500 homes, two schools, two churches and a new market were proposed for the 30-acre site which had suffered from extensive bomb damage and years of pre-war neglect. The Museum’s first display, New Beginnings, includes archive photography, drawings, film clips, text and original artefacts relating to these origins, and has been curated by independent historians Ruth Lang and Pete Collard.
“The Lansbury Estate has served as a microcosm for the opportunities and problems which London has faced as a whole. Its surroundings are rich with urban, social and architectural innovations we now take for granted, and it is our hope that the exhibition will reveal these once again as we consider the future for other neighbourhoods locally and nationally. It is a wonderful opportunity to create an exhibition set amidst the subject it is exploring, enabling us to work with the local community to reconsider preconceptions and establish a stronger connection with the real life of the estate.”
(Ruth Lang, Curator)
Alongside displays, tours of the Estate and of the Chrisp Street Market’s Clocktower (a beautiful Modernist ‘practical folly’ designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd as part of the site for the 1951 Festival of Britain live architecture exhibition) will be available to the public. A series of auxiliary events and workshops will invite the public to celebrate, reflect upon and critique the history and architectural significance of the Estate’s development. More information to be announced soon.
The Lansbury Micro Museum is part of a wider programme of activities that the V&A are organising in the boroughs that surround the site of V&A East, a new institution planned to open in 2021 as part of the cultural and educational district taking shape at Stratford Waterfront in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The Lansbury Micro Museum will open from 10-5 during Open House London (17/18 September).
Tours of the Museum, the Clock Tower and the Lansbury Estate, by curator Ruth Lang, will take place at 12 noon on both days.
The Lansbury Micro Museum will be open from 10-4 every Friday and Saturday.
Twenty-minute tours and access to the Clock Tower will be available to visitors whilst the Museum is open.
The Lansbury Micro Museum has been created by the V&A with the support of Poplar HARCA and The Mayor of London.
The exhibition ‘New Beginnings’ is the first of three in a series exploring the Lansbury Estate at the Micro Museum. The series has been curated by architectural historian Ruth Lang and writer/curator Pete Collard.
The National Trust has provided in-kind support by setting up a volunteers programme for the museum.