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Smithsonian confirms plans for temporary exhibition at new Stratford museum

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 February 2020

Artist's impression of V&A East. Picture: O'Donnell+Tuomey

Artist's impression of V&A East. Picture: O'Donnell+Tuomey

Picture: O'Donnell+Tuomey

A top American museum is set to take on a two-year residency in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Artist's impression of the East Bank development in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Picture: Mayor of London's OfficeArtist's impression of the East Bank development in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Picture: Mayor of London's Office

The Smithsonian has revealed further information about its plans to co-curate a gallery with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in its new East Bank venue - a new culture and education district within the park.

It will feature objects from both museums' collections, including those that have never previously been on show, and use art, design, science and the humanities to explore the connection between human life and nature.

The display is set to run for two years from 2023, when the museum - known as V&A East - opens to the public.

The short-term residency is a change from a 2016 announcement, when the two museums revealed a plan for a jointly organised permanent gallery space at the new venue.

The Smithsonian also intends to expand the shared training and employment programme (Step), a cultural exchange scheme for young people in east London and Washington DC.

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Its secretary, Lonnie Bunch, said he was "honoured" for the Smithsonian to have a presence in Stratford.

"I am pleased to solidify the collaborations with East Bank," he added.

"I have no doubt that this mutually beneficial collaboration will allow us to share innovative programming on education, diversity and inclusion, and museum leadership development with a truly international audience."

V&A director Tristram Hunt said: "Our collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution has created unique opportunities for both organisations and we're looking forward to bringing our collections, research and expertise together, and to building on our relationship over the coming years."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan added: "It is the most ambitious project of its kind for decades and this partnership between the Smithsonian and the V&A will give Londoners and visitors to the capital the opportunity to experience a unique collection."

As well as the new museum, the Stratford Waterfront section of the East Bank scheme will feature new homes for the London College of Fashion, Sadler's Wells dance theatre and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Planning permission for the buildings, as well as for up to 600 new homes, was granted in June last year.

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