Sackler Centre for Arts Education Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The V&A, long-listed for The Art Fund Prize in 2007 for the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, is a National museum and one of the world’s greatest museums of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. They span over 2,000 years of human creativity, cover virtually every medium, and are drawn from many parts of the world.
The new Sackler Centre for arts education is the V&A’s Centre for learning through creative design. Working with creative professionals, universities and others, the Museum helps young people and adults think about their design choices as consumers, and encourages visitors to develop skills in design practice – from digital media and advertising to fashion and home decoration – either for pleasure, or as a step towards a career.
The Sackler Centre is one of the most innovative museum education spaces in the world, with facilities including a digital studio, an auditorium and design and practical art studios. The new Centre more than doubles the space within the V&A available for educational use, and has given the opportunity to integrate educational programmes and collections in a way that it had not been able to do with previous spaces which were in different parts of the Museum.
Although each area within the Centre has a main purpose, they can all be used flexibly for a variety of different activities and different audiences. This project was essentially a refurbishment of an existing building, listed for its exterior but which had undergone many internal changes. The design needed to unify several disparate spaces and ensure that the Centre was welcoming, accessible and dynamic and that it would enable the Museum to reach out to wider audiences beyond its walls, to new visitors, as well as providing better facilities for existing audiences.
The Sackler Centre opened with an exciting and diverse Autumn events programme emphasising its commitment to revitalise and expand learning in the Museum. The Centre and its 2009 programme will make a huge contribution to other major projects opening during the year; these include the Buddhist Sculpture Galleries, the re-housing of the Gilbert Collection, the Theatre & Performance Galleries, the opening of the redesigned Ceramics Galleries and the new flagship suite of Medieval and Renaissance Galleries.
Some of your comments:
This is a wonderful new space for the V&A, and the museum is to be commended for using it to bring in an increasingly diverse and young audience - audiences which are attracted both by the excellent facilities for digital work and the inspiring programmes and events run by the museum's education teams. The Centre has also been used innovatively by the V&A for late-night events which have attracted an entirely different group of museum-goers. The Sackler Centre sustains and develops still further the V&A's position as one of the most vibrant and exciting museums in the country.
This is a wonderful arts centre for everyone with an interest in the complete range of the arts. There are activities for the very young, and seminar and lectures for students of all ages. I have attended two of the V&A courses here with excellent tutors on exciting arts related subjects. The studios, lecture theatres and connecting areas are spacious, light and airy, the environment pleasant and the staff are polite and helpful. Connected to the main V & A building, it also encourages the young to get the best out of the arts through access to the museum itself and helps them to realise that a museum isn’t dry and dusty, but interesting and beautiful. A cash-related prestigious award can ensure that it can continue and extend its good work in educating and entertaining all age groups.
The V&A's Sackler Centre has been an inspirational source of family learning for my 6 year old daughter, husband, mother-in-law and I. We attend as often as we can. This opportunity has opened so many doors for my daughter, helping me share my love for art and design with her. One of the main reasons I moved to South Kensington was to be near the V&A!