V&A unveils Supremes show

The Victoria & Albert Museum’s popular culture exhibition on 1960s Tamla Motown band The Supremes opens tomorrow.


The Victoria & Albert Museum’s popular culture exhibition on 1960s Tamla Motown band The Supremes opens tomorrow.


The exhibition, designed by Peter Brooks Design, features an array of iconic Supremes costumes and memorabilia, set against a cultural and political backdrop that charts the rise of Tamla Motown and the US Civil Rights movement.


The V&A has also collaborated with Peter Brooks and Profile Design on exhibition graphics, while sound designer Peter Key has created a ‘Detroit soundscape’.


Rose Design has created the brand communications campaign for the show and the exhibition identity.


Victoria Broakes, head of exhibitions for the theatre collections at the V&A, explains that one of the key considerations of the show was to bring an awkward space within the museum to life, while evoking the spirit of the 1960s.


A total of 16 glass cases, alongside uncased exhibits, convey various scenes, from a 1960s living room highlighting the spread of television, to a recreation of a Hollywood film set. ‘To make the most of the space, we have even used the museum staircase up to the musical instrument gallery to reconstruct a 1970s video set, which is the final showpiece,’ says Broakes.


Claims that the V&A is ‘dumbing down’ with its popular culture and performance exhibitions are a misconception, she asserts.


‘The V&A holds [a number of] performance collections. Fashion, culture and design are absolutely part of our remit,’ explains Broakes. ‘The second point is that, although a popular culture subject, The Supremes made a serious contribution to the civil rights movement, and their success influenced a generation of people.’


Rose Design, which earlier this year designed exhibition graphics for the Dada exhibition at Tate Modern, was appointed in January without a pitch and on the strength of previous work done for the V&A.


The brief, according to Rose partner Simon Elliott, was to create an identity, as well as a full range of marketing and promotional materials for the show, that would convey ‘attitude and showbiz’, while helping to establish the V&A as a world-class venue for performance exhibitions.


The V&A plans to tour nationwide with the exhibition after October.

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