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As the Victoria & Albert Museum celebrates its 150th anniversary, it is making a strong effort to boost its contemporary appeal through shows like Milan in a Van and other initiatives.

As the Victoria & Albert Museum celebrates its 150th anniversary, it is making a strong effort to boost its contemporary appeal through shows like Milan in a Van and other initiatives. What single thing would help the V&A achieve this goal?

‘It should be commended for returning to its original mission to support British design and manufactures. Contemporary design has a popular appeal, which the V&A is right to tap into, but design is also about wealth creation as well as “edutainment”, and I hope it manages that balance. It should also be more proactive in supporting the creative industries at a UK level, as no one else is – the V&A is a superb national/international platform. It also needs a range of partners around the UK to be a genuinely national UK design museum.’

Stuart Macdonald, Director, The Lighthouse

‘Selfishly, it’s good news if another museum champions contemporary design and architecture alongside us. But the one thing the V&A should do is stage great exhibitions.’

Alice Rawsthorn, Director, Design Museum

‘The V&A needs to build the Spiral. This is where the focus of its contemporary activities will take place. Geography has always been a problem in the museum and finding what you seek is hard. The Spiral will be a spectacular marker; the skill will be to encourage what may be a new group of visitors to penetrate the rest of the museum.’

Dinah Casson, Partner, Casson Mann

‘The museum’s most urgent challenge is to reconnect in the hearts and minds of a contemporary audience and in particular with the manufacturing and creative industries. This suggests a shift of emphasis, from museum of the decorative arts to rediscovering its role as The National Museum of Design. This was the museum’s raison d’être 150 years ago and should be its principal purpose today.’

Rodney Fitch, Chairman, Rodney Fitch & Co

‘This old stuff-new stuff split is a bit unsatisfactory. I’d love to see a programme of Guerrilla Curation in the existing galleries. The objects would stay exactly as they are (which they should do or it stops being a museum, in my book, anyway), but then you’d let unexpected and clever people overlay a contemporary, temporary viewpoint around the place. Imagine what would happen if you gave over a gallery of say, Tudor furniture to Jeremy Clarkson for a month.’

Tim Pyne, Creative partner, Table

The question is flawed…Museum dynamics demand a slow burn but the arrival of the wonderful spiral would re-energise all of South Kensington. In the meantime the V&A is already doing incredibly well, consistently providing a broad, balanced spectrum of temporary shows.

Professor Tim Molloy, Head of Design, the Science Museum.

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