London’s Victoria & Albert Museum has this week appointed McInnes Usher McKnight Architects to a £20m, four-year project to design its Medieval and Renaissance galleries.
Initial concepts are due to be presented by December this year. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2005, with the work completed in 2007. The scheme is part of the V&A’s £150m, ten-year facelift that includes the mooted Spiral extension by architect Daniel Libeskind (DW 25 April 2002).
The Medieval and Renaissance galleries, located to the right of the museum’s main entrance, will incorporate a day-lit sculpture court as well as a series of smaller galleries best-suited to exhibits requiring close attention.
The challenge for the design will be to strike a balance between displaying as many objects as possible and creating an ‘appropriate setting’ for them, says Muma director Stuart McKnight.
V&A project director Gwyn Miles says, ‘Muma has creative ideas about the use of space and light and a fresh approach towards display. We were impressed by its ideas on how to transform the galleries into spaces that will work both for monumental objects, such as the Florentine chapel, or small scale objects such as precious Medieval ivories.’
Meanwhile, Din Associates is designing the V&A’s autumn exhibition – Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547 – and the accompanying graphics. The show, which runs 9 October to 18 January 2004, addresses several themes in the period – royalty, war, chivalry and spectacle, patrons, urban life, the household, church and people, and death and commemoration.
‘We have to bring a little-known period alive and make it accessible to the V&A’s broad audience,’ says Din Associates project director Lesley Batchelor, who is leading a team consisting of senior designer Phoebe Chung, designer James Patterson and head of graphics Carolyn O’Connell.