v+a sackler courtyard

The V+A’s new Sackler Courtyard

South Kensington’s Victoria and Albert Museum has unveiled a grand new entrance – Katie Wignall went to have a look at it.

There’s now something else to explore in the world’s greatest museum of Art and Design! It’s the largest project the V&A has undertaken in over 100 years and includes a gleaming new courtyard that hides a huge (1,100 sq metre) exhibition space underneath.

The magnificent Aston Webb Screen has been restored, with all 1,375 stones being dismantled, numbered then put back in place! Originally the screen was installed to hide the ugly boilers from public view but now these elegant columns can be fully appreciated, providing a beautiful entrance to the new Sackler Courtyard.

The courtyard itself is the world’s first porcelain public courtyard, designed by Amanda Levete with her architecture practice; AL_A. It’s made of 11,000 handmade tiles, a reference to the V&A’s heritage as a world-leader in ceramic study, collection and preservation.

The left hand side houses a sleek glass-covered cafe and on the right is the oculus, allowing light to fall into the gallery below.

And that’s the real show-stopper…

The huge contemporary exhibition space will allow the museum to remain at the global forefront of temporary exhibitions (recent blockbusters include David Bowie, Alexander McQueen and Pink Floyd). It appears to float, with no visible means of support except the clever cantilevered ceiling allowing natural light from the skylight above.

The Victoria and Albert museum is in London’s South Kensington and is open every day of the week. A London Blue Badge Tourist Guide will help you get the most from your visit, revealing the hidden treasures and enthralling you with stories of the collection.