The V&A is developing exciting plans for East London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; 'The V&A East,' is a collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution in the US and will also be home to the museum’s new Collection and Research Centre, replacing its archive at Blythe House in west London. I was able to speak to Senior Curator of the Fashion Department Sonnet Stanfill, also curator of the Italian Fashion exhibition, who has observed this development firsthand. 

Q: What benefits will this venue bring to the museum in the future?

A:The benefits to the Museum are that V&A East  will increase the number of people who have easy access to the V&A's collections and public programme. It will provide the Museum with additional exhibition spaces, allowing it to create more shows, and will allow us to have even more of our world class collections on display. In addition, because we are partnering with the Smithsonian, which will take the form of a co-curated gallery within the new building, this will foster interesting collaborations and knowledge exchange. 

Q: What advantages do you think the unique location will bring?

A:One important advantage of the location is that we hope it will attract a very diverse audience. Because the site it is surrounded by some of London's poorest boroughs, with a high proportion of immigrant families, we really aim to make it a local museum, to ensure that those that live nearby feel welcome. Another advantage of the location is that there is a large number of artists, designers and other creatives who live and work locally. Because the Museum was founded to serve as a resource for makers and designers, we hope that this local community of creatives become regular visitors. 

Q: How will V&A East help the fashion department in particular?

A: V&A East will include fashion in its gallery displays, so it will be wonderful to have some of the collection in East London. In addition, the so-called East Bank (the cultural district where the V&A will be located) includes a fashion education institution, the London College of Fashion, which is part of University of the Arts London (UAL). This means that there will undoubtedly opportunities for shared events, collaborations and partnerships.

Q: What do you personally hope V&A East will do for the museum?

A: I personally hope that the new location will encourage the next generation of young people, specifically those living in the local area, to consider museums as a career. I hope that by visiting when they're young, this will capture their imaginations, and they will envision themselves working there or perhaps working in the creative industries in some way. The cultural sector really needs young people from diverse backgrounds to consider it as a career path that is open to them. Otherwise we run the risk of narrow minded programming, and ultimately becoming irrelevant. 

Q: Finally, what is your favourite thing/feature about the venue

A: My favourite thing about V&A East is the location: at the heart of an exciting frontier in an underdeveloped part of London. It is a part of London that feels almost exotic to me. Because I live in Southwest London, it is incredibly far away geographically and culturally from my own neighbourhood. So I am very inspired by the potential that the new location will unlock for the V&A.