Times stirs controversy over new V&A galleries

Misunderstanding regarding removed objects clarified

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London

Work has begun on the new medieval and Renaissance galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) with a flurry of controversy. In July, a feature article and a leader in The Times gave the impression that the contents of the galleries would be entirely removed from public view while the work was underway and that the works of art in the medieval treasury had already been taken away. Some scholars wrote letters of complaint to the newspaper, and Paula Ridley, the chairman of the V&A’s board of trustees, had to make it clear that as each section is closed, the objects will be temporarily re-displayed until the new galleries are complete. Most of the objects from the treasury have been moved to another gallery. The project, announced in 2002, will create an extensive set of galleries, arranged chronologically from the early medieval period to the Baroque, in the wing east of the main entrance, complementing the British Galleries which opened to universal acclaim in 2001. The cost of the redevelopment is expected to be in the region of £25 million and the project is scheduled to be completed by 2009. Curators will next month announce the exact schedule of gallery closures and the re-display of objects elsewhere in the museum. In the redevelopment, the shop and restaurant will be relocated, the latter to be returned to the William Morris and Gamble rooms, the museum’s original, purpose-built dining rooms.

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