The joint initiative between La Biennale di Venezia and the V&A began in 2016. Each year, the two institutions curate together a Special Project in the Applied Arts Pavilion in Venice, visited by over a quarter of a million people.
La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895 and presents one of the most famous and prestigious cultural events in the world. The V&A was founded in 1857 and is the world's leading museum of art, design and performance – with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. The partnership therefore brings together two of the world's leading creative institutions, and remains the only special project between La Biennale and an international museum.
The collaboration was instigated by President Paolo Baratta from La Biennale di Venezia and by the late Dr Martin Roth, the V&A's director from 2011 – 16. It remains one of his greatest legacies and is one of the museum's most important international initiatives. To honour Dr Roth’s memory, the V&A has established a Venice Architecture Biennale Fund, which aims to secure the long-term future of this creative partnership, and would like to extend special thanks to its donors and Volkswagen Group.
2021's display Three British Mosques explored contemporary multiculturalism through three adapted mosque spaces in London.
The 2019 edition features an installation by Polish-born, London-based artist, Marysia Lewandowska, whose work explores the public function of archives, museums and exhibitions.
Responding to the 2018 theme of FREESPACE, the exhibition Robin Hood Gardens: A Ruin in Reverse presented a 9m-high salvaged section of the façade of Robin Hood Gardens, the Brutalist housing estate by Alison and Peter Smithson.
A World of Fragile Parts explored the threats facing the preservation of global heritage sites and how the production of copies can aid in the preservation of cultural artefacts.