V&A museum to open new
permanent furniture gallery

| Leave a comment

News: the V&A museum in London is to open a new permanent gallery to display over 200 pieces from its collection of furniture spanning 600 years.

V&A museum to open new permanent furniture gallery
Storage unit, 1949-50

The new gallery will be designed by Scottish studio NORD Architecture and is set to open on 1 December 2012.

V&A museum to open new permanent furniture gallery
Tristan and Isolde casket, c.1350-70

See all our stories about the V&A museum here, including our recent series of interviews with designer Thomas Heatherwick at the opening of his solo show there.

V&A museum to open new permanent furniture gallery
English cabinet, c.1690-1700

See all our stories about NORD Architecture »

V&A museum to open new permanent furniture gallery
Cabinet, c.1740-70

Images are copyright V&A images unless otherwise stated.

Here are some more details about the new gallery from the museum:


The V&A will open its new Furniture Gallery in December, providing a permanent home for the Museum’s internationally renowned furniture collection. The Museum has always displayed furniture in other galleries, but this will be the first ever V&A gallery dedicated to furniture and the only gallery worldwide devoted to a comprehensive display of furniture, telling the story of its production across six centuries. Designed by NORD Architecture, this beautiful gallery will display more than 200 outstanding pieces of British and European furniture, from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as examples of American and Asian furniture.

V&A museum to open new permanent furniture gallery
Table from Warwick Castle, c.1670-80

The gallery will feature some objects that have not been on display for more than 30 years, with pieces ranging from chairs, stools, tables, bureaux, chests, cabinets and wardrobes, to clocks, mirrors and screens. Well-known designers such as Thomas Chippendale, David Roentgen, Grinling Gibbons, George Bullock, Robert Adam, Eileen Gray, Michael Thonet, Charles and Ray Eames, Ron Arad and Tom Dixon will be represented alongside lesser-known names selected for their superior techniques.

V&A museum to open new permanent furniture gallery
Cradle by Richard Norman Shaw, c.1861

Highlights on display will include a storage unit by Charles and Ray Eames (1949-50), a dining chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1949), a Gothic revival cradle designed by Richard Norman Shaw (1861), a gilded cassone made for the Duke of Urbino (about 1509), a scagliola decorated table formerly at Warwick Castle (1675), and one of the newest pieces in the collection, the ‘Branca’ chair, designed by Industrial Facility (2011). A central chronological display will highlight 25 key pieces from the collection and there will also be a newly-commissioned seating installation by contemporary designer Gitta Gschwendtner.

The gallery will tell the story of how furniture was made and decorated over 600 years, exploring athematic range of materials and techniques ranging from joinery, moulding, upholstery and digital manufacture, to carving, marquetry, gilding and lacquer. It will focus on techniques of construction and decoration and will include numerous examples of how conservation and analysis have revealed previously unknown information about the way in which the objects were made and about the people who made them. On display will be a 15th century medieval desk cupboard which reveals how English furniture makers of the time used oak sourced from 1500 miles away, and a bureau (1780-1820) from Mexico, veneered with mother-of-pearl which would have required craftsmen to saw shells for 5000 hours.

V&A museum to open new permanent furniture gallery
Chair for Ward Willets House by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1902Image is copyright ARS, NY and DACS, London 2012

The gallery will incorporate innovative and interactive technologies and for the first time ever at the V&A, digital labels will be used with a touch-screen interface to provide additional content and context for each object. Films in the gallery will explore key techniques including joinery, boulle marquetry and digital manufacturing. Fourteen specially-commissioned audio recordings will record the responses of contemporary experts, including David Adjaye and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, to the work of historic designers.

The gallery has been designed as part of the V&A’s FuturePlan to transform the Museum through new galleries and redisplays of its collections. FuturePlan aims to create beautiful and contemporary new settings for the V&A’s outstanding collections while restoring much of the building’s original architecture and improving visitors’ experience of the Museum. The Furniture Gallery is fully funded with a lead gift from an anonymous donor.