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V&A appoints Gus Casely-Hayford as director of V&A East

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The V&A has today announced the appointment of Gus Casely-Hayford as the inaugural director of V&A East. Internationally renowned as a museum director, cultural historian, writer, curator and broadcaster, he will take up the newly created role at the helm of the V&A’s most ambitious expansion project in spring 2020.

Casely-Hayford is currently director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. On his return to London, he will be responsible for the creative strategy and programming across V&A East’s two new public venues in east London, both now under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. He will report to V&A Director, Tristram Hunt, and the V&A’s Deputy Director, Chief Operating Officer and V&A East project lead, Tim Reeve, who welcomed the appointment:

Gus Casely-Hayford, V&A East Director. Photo ©Catie Anchin
Gus Casely-Hayford, V&A East Director. Photo ©Catie Anchin

“I’m delighted that Gus is joining the V&A to lead and launch V&A East. This is a hugely ambitious project – for east London, for the UK and for international cultural exchange. It offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform how we engage young, diverse audiences, and to revolutionise how our collections are accessed and experienced. We cast the net wide to find a creative leader of the highest standing, and with his prestigious career and background, Gus is perfectly placed to lead V&A East’s growing team and to develop its new identity, purpose and programme.”

V&A East is one of the most significant and ambitious developments in the museum’s history. A five-storey museum (designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey) at Stratford Waterfront will sit alongside UAL’s London College of Fashion, a new venue for Sadler’s Wells, and new BBC studios. As its centrepiece, the museum will host a pioneering UK-US partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, spanning the arts, humanities, science and nature, and uniting two of the world’s greatest museum collections to tell relevant, topical and powerful stories about the world in which we live.

External render view of the new V&A museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey © O’Donnell + Tuomey, Ninety90, 2018
External render view of the new V&A museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey © O’Donnell + Tuomey, Ninety90, 2018
Internal render view of the new V&A collection and research centre at Here East, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro © Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018
Internal render view of the new V&A collection and research centre at Here East, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro © Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018

Ten minutes’ walk away at Here East, a new collection and research centre (designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro) will unite more than 250,000 objects, 350,000 books, and 1,000 archives in a new purpose-built facility that will reinvent the idea of a museum store as visitor experience.

Both sites will open in 2023 as part of East Bank, a new powerhouse of culture, education, innovation and growth taking shape in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the London 2012 Olympic legacy.

Gus Casely-Hayford, said: I feel enormously privileged to be asked to become part of the fantastic V&A team. It has long been the arts institution that I have looked to for innovation and inspiration. And what a brief – working to deliver a new museum for east London. And what a collection – the most thrilling single body of material culture I have ever encountered.

“The V&A is a museum with the appetite and ambition to really shift the way that museums work and engage. I cannot wait to share the magic of V&A East with new audiences and our old friends. We are going to craft dynamic and compelling ways for our audiences to get close to the extraordinary, to be transported across time and geography by the most beautiful and intriguing things. We want to give you the tools to tell and retell your own stories through objects that move you – and to change the way that we think about ourselves and the world.”

Internal render view showing a performance in the new V&A collection and research centre at Here East © Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018
Internal render view showing a performance in the new V&A collection and research centre at Here East © Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018

Casely-Hayford will join the V&A’s Executive Board and assume management responsibility for V&A East’s curatorial and project teams.

The appointment comes as the V&A continues its expansion beyond its historic home at South Kensington, with a major transformation underway at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, and new V&A galleries now open in both Dundee and Shenzhen

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