Living with the Past: Part One

January 18, 2010

By Stuart Frost

I have spent over seven years, or thereabouts, working on the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. I find it hard to believe that my role on the project has finally come to an end. The project team offices are in the process of being cleared and I have taken up a new job at the British Museum. Most of you will know that the galleries opened to the public on Wednesday 2nd December. The response from the press and the public has been magnificent.

Over the last twelve months work on the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries progressed at a particularly remarkable rate. Noteworthy milestones receded into the distance at such a rapid rate that they’d vanished over the horizon before I’d had the opportunity to write about them. Installing the glass roof for Gallery 64b at the V&A, July 2009. Image courtesy of MUMA.

I wanted to use the blog to document work-in-progress on the glass roof of the new day-lit space, one of the most exciting aspects of the galleries. Therefore I’m posting this blog entry about The Simon Sainsbury Gallery retrospectively. The gallery space is open to the public although a number of objects are still to be installed. Although there is still a little bit of work to do the area looks wonderful, especially in the evening.

The day-lit gallery has been created from previously unused space between external facades. The photograph reproduced here shows the installation of glass beams measuring up to nine meters in length. These beams span the void between the walls, which in conjunction with a new floor, create the light filled gallery that houses large architectural objects. The blue colour of the glass beams in the picture results from protective coverings that have now been removed.

I’ve posted some additional photographs on Flickr which you should be able to reach by clicking on the picture provided here. I should point out that the photograph used here were taken in July 2009. The completed gallery roof looks very different.

The theme for the gallery is Living with the Past and the displays here highlight the often substantially altered buildings and monuments that survive in our towns and cities. The construction of this new space at the V&A allowed MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects) to design an orientation point which contains a study area with computer terminals where visitors can access online resources and a vast graphic timeline. The day-lit gallery is a remarkable addition to the V&A building.

I would like to thank MUMA for providing the photograph that illustrates this page and for their permission to use it. I’ll provide more information on the daylit gallery in the next blog entry and focus on some of the vast architectural objects that occupy the space.

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