Modern renovations at the V&A

How does a 150-year-old museum with 145 galleries housing collections that span 5,000 years update its staid, Victorian facade with contemporary renovations? For the answer we look to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Founded in 1852, the V&A has managed to remain relevant by incorporating late night, contemporary art events into their calendar, as well as fashion shows featuring Vivienne Westwood, Christian Lacroix, Gareth Pugh, Erdem, Missoni and a host of others.

More critical to its longevity, however, is the the “Future Plan,” a renovation program that began in 2001 with an eye on incorporating contemporary architecture and design into the traditional Victorian museum space. The best examples of this are the illuminated glass and metal spiral staircase in the jewelry gallery and the Ceramics Link Bridge, a strikingly modern transition between two of the museum’s existing structures. V&A has received the criticism expected of UK traditionalists, but overall it’s met with nothing but praise from its patrons as well as the design world. Had they renovated in classical style with elaborate arched entrances and gilded passageways, not only would it have been a big bore but no one would have noticed that anything had changed. The introduction of modern materials and building methods is an essential part of keeping old collections relevant and of interest to the average museum-goer.

The Ceramics Link Bridge