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LONDON — The Victoria and Albert Museum, the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, is completing its biggest building project in a century: a new courtyard entrance and foyer, opening on June 30, that’s intended to make it easier for the public to gain access. The museum is also inaugurating a vast exhibition gallery.
The British architect Amanda Levete and her team have dug into an underused corner of the Victoria and Albert Museum here to create a nearly 12,000-square-foot temporary exhibition space that will be among the largest in Britain. Until now, the museum’s blockbusters — including a 2013 show on David Bowie and a 2015 one on Alexander McQueen — have been staged in Victorian rooms converted into galleries that visitors enter through a maze of corridors and collection displays.
The new director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tristram Hunt, a 43-year-old historian and former member of the British Parliament, said in an interview that the redevelopment was needed because there was “this totally dead space of technical services and old huts right in the heart of the estate of the museum.”
“The crucial driver was creating a really top-of-the-range exhibition space, because at the moment we’re slightly higgledy-piggledy in our exhibition galleries,” he added.
Mr. Hunt said the project cost 54.5 million pounds, or about $69 million. Of the total, about £49.5 million had been raised, while £1 million more would come from additional fund-raising, and the rest from the museum’s commercial revenues.
Ms. Levete has both preserved the existing architecture and added to it. Visitors will enter the courtyard through an elegant 1909 stone colonnade designed by one of the architects of the original Victoria and Albert Museum, Aston Webb.
The courtyard has been raised and paved with 10,100 porcelain tiles bearing geometric patterns designed by Ms. Levete. On the left side of the courtyard is a modern, glass-fronted cafe with a sharply slanting roof, and across from the courtyard is the foyer, through which visitors can enter the new exhibition galleries (as well as the museum itself).


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