After 5 years of dedicated planning and design work, and more than a year of construction onsite in Bethnal Green, we’ve reached a hugely exciting and significant moment at Young V&A! The 15-meter-high scaffolding has been taken down inside the building to reveal some of the most important historic features (including the iconic barrel-vaulted ceilings), unblocked rooflights that bring daylight into the heart of the museum, and other areas that hadn’t been updated in decades – or indeed since in the museum opened its doors in 1872.
With this crucial preparation work now behind us, our site team have installed 100s of metres of mechanical and electrical services throughout every room of the building, lighting fixtures, a new larger lift and new learning spaces –a series of beautiful, daylit creative studios perfect for playing, imagining, and designing. And at the heart of it all, the spiral staircase (co-designed by local school children and inspired by the V&A’s optical toys collection) sits in its permanent position, and is visible from nearly every vantage point inside Young V&A. These much-needed changes will make the museum a more comfortable, brighter place for our visitors to spend time. Everyone will be able to move around the building more easily, and there will be better access than ever to our collections and exhibitions. It will even sound softer, with the help of special acoustic finishes!
Meanwhile, we’re now turning our attention to the next phase of construction, with specialist contractors Factory Settings and Florea D.Sign working on the three main galleries Play, Imagine and Design. These teams will bring to life the dynamic and sensory landscapes of the spaces, which will house new interactives, artistic commissions, material co-produced with our audiences, and 1000s of V&A objects.
Many months ago, the Factory Settings teams carefully drew, measured and constructed 100s of prototypes and mock ups of these gallery elements, before starting production in their east London workshop. In parallel, our design team have been working with Florea for nearly a year to design all the technical components for our display cases. This ensures that the scale, material and lighting within each case is just right for the gallery environment – and ensures that the cases protect our collections for years to come.
Very excitingly, colourful pieces of the build are now starting to arrive and come together for the first time. The larger-than-life letters signposting the new Play Gallery – which double up as seats and sit among objects – arrived this month, with many more wonderful things coming very soon. We’re so excited to see Young V&A finally take shape, and how it’s starting to fulfil our young co-designers brief to create the most ‘joyful museum in the world’.
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