The V&A and Smithsonian have cancelled their joint venture in East London which would have seen the world-renowned institutions partner in creating a collaborative museum.
In a statement from the V&A and Smithsonian Institution on partnership as part of East Bank the following information was issued
Due to evolving strategic priorities, and in the context of the effects of COVID-19, the V&A and Smithsonian Institution have agreed not to continue with their curatorial partnership at V&A East. However, we are excited to re-focus our work together on expanding the successful STEP internship programme, as part of the broader East Bank partnership with support from the Foundation for Future London. STEP is an ambitious leadership programme for young people from diverse backgrounds from both east London and Washington, D.C., which will grow the next generation of cultural and museum leaders. We know that the creative workforce in the U.K. and the U.S. does not reflect our societies and this programme is needed now more than ever.
The Smithsonian in Washington announced plans to cooperate with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on a major international joint venture in London in 2015. The proposed site situated in front of the London Aquatics Centre and a few hundred yards from the former Olympic Stadium.
The permanent gallery space was to become part of V&A East, a cultural complex created in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It would have been the first time in its 170 year history that the Smithsonian has opened a long-term exhibition venue outside of the U.S.
The permanent collection held by the Smithsonian consists of 137 million artefacts. “With the V&A in London, it was thought it would build bridges to other countries and continents and share our work with the world.”
“It would have been a collaboration with the V&A, giving both institutions opportunities to engage with diverse audiences in innovative ways and tell stories not only in London but in the United States and around the world.”
The Smithsonian was founded by British chemist James Smithson – the illegitimate son of the first Duke of Northumberland. When he died in 1829, a clause in his will bequeathed his fortune to the United States to create in Washington “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men”. Smithson had never visited the U.S., but in 1904 Alexander Graham Bell, a regent of the Smithsonian brought his remains to Washington where they were re-interred at the institution that bears his name.