When Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the newly rechristened Victoria & Albert MuseumÂ at the turn of the 20th century, she declared that it would become â€śa monument of discerning liberty and a source of refinement and progressâ€ť for ages to come.
Todayâ€™s museum aims to do just that with the unveiling of an eagerly anticipated extension known as the Exhibition Road Quarter. Designed by British architect Amanda Levete, the six-year transformation has reclaimed a former boiler-house yard by surfacing it with more than 10,000 Dutch-made porcelain tilesâ€”a nod to the V&Aâ€™s encyclopedic ceramics collectionâ€”while adding a new entrance and glass-faced cafĂ©. In deference to the stately facades of red brick and Portland stone fronting three sides of the square, Levete built the new Sainsbury Gallery underground, excavating a vast, 1,100-square-meter space that will house the museumâ€™s blockbuster exhibitions. The inaugural showcase, launching on September 30, will take visitors through the evolution of opera over the past 400 years.Â
This article originally appeared in theÂ August/September 2017Â print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śSquaring Offâ€ť).