This Summer the V&A will reveal its new spaces on Exhibition Road. We will regularly be sharing news leading up to the opening in July.
If you’ve visited the museum recently you may have noticed that the Aston Webb Screen has returned to Exhibition Road and is slowly being uncovered as the scaffolding that surrounds it is dismantled.
This is a sneak-peek of the project that will transform the way visitors will experience the museum. The ambitious development will provide a new entrance from Exhibition Road, a beautifully designed ceramic courtyard creating space for installations and events, a purpose-built gallery for our world-class exhibition programme, plus a new café and exhibition shop – all opening at the same time this summer.
The Aston Webb Screen was built in 1909 as a clever architectural intervention to hide the museum’s Victorian boilers. The screen originally featured a solid stone wall facing Exhibition Road (on the west side of the museum), with a crested central arch, and topped by a graceful colonnade that allowed passers-by a few discrete views of the surrounding buildings.
In 2013 – as work began on realising Amanda Levete’s design for a new courtyard and entrance – the Aston Webb Screen was removed to protect it and allow the work to go ahead. Compromising 1375 stones, the screen has been in safe storage for the last three years. At the end of 2016, work started on re-assembling this historic structure. The screen has now been returned to site by our contractor PAYE as we near the completion of the project.
Until this week, the view of the screen was obstructed by 9.25m high scaffolding, which PAYE’s specialist team of stone masons were using to carefully conserve the screen.
Over the course of the week the scaffolding has been removed. You’ll see that now that the screen has been partially revealed, it looks a little different. It has been modified to provide more of a welcome from Exhibition Road and our neighbouring museums, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, and to improve access. The bold new design means that come July, visitors will be able to walk through the historical structure into the new courtyard.
As we get closer to opening, watch this space for more on the how the new entrance is looking, plus other aspects of this huge change to the museum – creating beautiful and contemporary new settings whilst restoring and revealing much of the building’s original architecture.