When Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the newly rechristened Victoria & Albert Museum at the turn of the 20th century, she declared that it would become “a monument of discerning liberty and a source of refinement and progress” for ages to come.
Today’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 tiles—a nod to the V&A’s encyclopedic ceramics collection—while adding a new entrance and glass-faced café. 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 museum’s blockbuster exhibitions. The inaugural showcase, launching on September 30, will take visitors through the evolution of opera over the past 400 years.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Squaring Off”).