Culture / Art Republik

Smithsonian Teams With V&A For Exhibition

The Victoria and Albert Museum sets up the Smithsonian in an Exhibition Space over at its new building.

Jun 16, 2016 | By Staff Writer

The revered Smithsonian Institution is one of the largest of its kind, dedicated to the pursuit and preservation of knowledge. It has research projects and collaborations in more than 140 international locations and yet, it hasn’t had an official permanent collaboration anywhere outside the US. Well, hang on to your souvenir shop collection because all that is changing. For the first time in its 170-year history, the Smithsonian will boldly go offshore, to that far-flung outpost of civilization, Great Britain. In partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Smithsonian will be creating a joint exhibition space in London.

Ok, the use of ‘outpost’ may indeed be an issue here. “This would not be a Smithsonian outpost in London'” Smithsonian secretary David Skorton stressed in a statement, expressing the equal stake held by the two parties. Both institutions will develop the programs from their respective collections together. Furthermore, the collaborative nature of this venture helps to lighten some of the financial weight borne by the Smithsonian; the private sector will be helping to support this initiative. Additional help will come from the Foundation for FutureLondon, a new charity established for East London’s new cultural complex – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The Smithsonian has some 138 million specimens in its collection, housed in some 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. With a permanent gallery space in V&A’s new building (located in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park), it can give these collections and resources a further reach. The growth of the whole area into a cultural hub was especially championed by London’s former mayor Boris Johnson, and current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. All of the new venues in the park are expected to open in 2021.

“Growing London’s cultural sector is one of my core priorities as mayor, so I welcome this trans-Atlantic collaboration between two of the world’s most prestigious institutions” said Khan. Hopefully, this pilot program will turn out to be as an exciting new cultural destination in East London for the public.

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