FuturePlan is an ambitious programme of development which is transforming the V&A. The best contemporary designers are creating exciting new galleries and visitor facilities, while revealing and restoring the beauty of the original building. In the past 15 years, over 85% of the Museum’s public spaces have been transformed, improving access and allowing the collections to be more elegantly and intelligently displayed. By introducing bold new architectural interventions, FuturePlan aims to delight and to inspire visitors, and to continue the Museum’s tradition of championing new talent.
The V&A has been collecting photographs since 1856, the year the Museum was founded, and it was one of the first museums to present photography exhibitions. Since then the collection has grown to be one of the largest and most important in the world, comprising around 500,000 images. The V&A is now honoured to have added the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) collection to its holdings, which contains around 270,000 photographs, an extensive library, and 6,000 cameras and pieces of equipment associated with leading artists and photographic pioneers.
To maximise the impact of the expanded collection, the V&A is developing a new photography centre on the first floor of the historic North East Quarter of its South Kensington building. This will allow the Museum to display a far greater number and range of photographs, negatives, camera technology, books and archival items alongside its headline photography exhibitions and displays. The Photography Centre will also facilitate exciting activities, learning events and broader opportunities for visitors and resident practitioners to engage with photography.
Phase 1 of the project will create a purpose-built storage space for the combined collections and double our display space for photography in newly designed gallery and activity spaces. This is accompanied by an extensive digitization project and an initiative for UK-wide loans. Photographs not on display will be accessible to visitors through the Prints & Drawings Study Room. Phase 2 will fully realise complementary learning programmes, research initiatives, a browsing library and photographer's studio.
The V&A Museum of Childhood
The V&A Museum of Childhood explores art and design through its world-class collection of children's toys, artefacts and cultures. It is the UK's National Museum of Childhood and is the largest institution of its kind in the world.
Our vision is to establish the Museum of Childhood as the best design-focussed museum for children, families and young people. This project will transform our gallery provision and more than double the number of objects on display from our collection. We will place the practice of design and craft at the heart of our ambition to offer an interactive, 21st-century museum experience for visitors of all ages. This exciting project will enable us to safeguard the Museum of Childhood's historic building and its nationally significant collection for future generations, all in time for the building's 150th anniversary in 2022.
The V&A's Cast Courts are two of the Museum's largest and dramatic spaces, housing important casts of works that date as far back as ancient Rome. Highlights include Trajan's Column, the Pórtico de la Gloria from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and pieces by many of the most celebrated Italian Renaissance sculptors.
In 2014 the East Court reopened as the Weston Cast Court after a full refurbishment. Earlier this year we entered the second phase of the project, which will see the renewal of the West Court, which will be renamed the Ruddock Family Cast Court, and Central Gallery, to be renamed The Chitra Nirmal Sethia Gallery, to complete the refurbishment work, and ensure the Cast Courts remain the most important national and international centre for the enjoyment, understanding and study of plaster casts. This renovation will involve the revealing of the original floor, reinstatement of the wall colours and a new roof over the court. Most excitingly, Trajan's column will be opened up for the public to see inside. The Central Gallery will house a new display on the history of the courts and the process of casting.
William and Judith Bollinger Gallery
The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery has welcomed 4 million visitors since it opened in 2008. The gallery will close for refurbishment in early 2019 before re-opening in April 2019 in time for the bicentenary of the births of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
To celebrate the bicentenary, the sapphire and diamond coronet which Prince Albert designed for Queen Victoria in 1840 will go on permanent display for the first time. The coronet, a gift to the V&A from William and Judith Bollinger, was worn by Queen Victoria in a famous portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter which carried the image of the young queen around the world. Later, in her widowhood, she wore the coronet in place of her crown when she opened Parliament for the first time after Albert's death.
Another breathtaking new addition will be a superb collection of forty-nine Art Deco vanity cases by Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels and the leading jewellery houses of Paris and New York, a promised gift from Kashmira Bulsara in memory of her brother, Freddie Mercury.
The V&A is developing exciting plans for East London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as part of LLDC's Olympic legacy collaboration, together with other world-leading institutions including UCL, UAL London College of Fashion and Sadler's Wells.
As we seek to develop new programmes and transform access to the V&A's collection and archives, the V&A East project is a hugely important opportunity for the future. Our pioneering curatorial partnership between the V&A and the Smithsonian Institution continues to develop, and V&A teams will be running a number of events, activities and partnerships across East London in the coming year.
How You Can Support Futureplan
FuturePlan is transforming the V&A. Through this programme of renewal we have revitalised the displays, researched and conserved the collections, clarified the layout and restored much of the building's original grand architecture.
FuturePlan is almost entirely funded by private donations and is succeeding thanks to the extraordinary commitment of our supporters. If you would like to get involved, please contact the Development department. We would be delighted to discuss how you can help FuturePlan restore and redesign the V&A.
We are currently working to secure funds for:
- The Museum’s new Photography Centre, which will display highlights from the V&A’s world leading photography collection and establish a photography library, learning spaces, dark room and an artist’s studio.
- The renovation of the Museum of Childhood will establish it as the very best design focused museum for children, and use its world-class collection of children’s toys and artefacts to promote knowledge and enjoyment of the designed world.
We are also seeking funding to support the other activities that make the V&A a world-class centre of excellence and learning in art and design. You can support our programmes that relate to education, acquisitions, conservation and research.
Find out the latest news from the wide range of FuturePlan projects being carried out around the V&A by architects, designers and leading Museum experts.