Smithsonian joins forces with V&A to open first overseas base in London

The Smithsonian Institution is to open its first facility outside the US in London as part of a joint venture with the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Smithsonian Institution logo.The deal is not official yet, however the board of regents of the Smithsonian has given approval for the plan. David Skorton, the organisation’s secretary, is expected to sign an agreement with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in May.

The project will see the Smithsonian develop and deliver exhibitions and programming in a new museum to be constructed in the Olympicopolis art hub, which is being developed on the 2012 Olympics site in Stratford, London.

The V&A already has plans to construct V&A East, a collections, research and learning hub, at the location.

According to the Art Newspaper, the agreement will be for a co-curated permanent display at the V&A facility, as well as occasional shows organised by the Smithsonian to be hosted in the temporary exhibition gallery.

The permanent display and shows will draw on the collections of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums.

The Smithsonian had originally hoped to open its own facility at the former Olympic site, however it scaled back its plans in 2016 due to concern about the financial commitment. It instead focused on collaborating with the V&A.

V&A East was originally scheduled to open in 2021, but it has been delayed due to a planning decision that required the facility to be reduced in size. The V&A has since decided to establish a separate storage facility a short walk away from the location. It is now hoped that V&A East will open in 2023.

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