Albertopolis is a new display curated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in collaboration with the V&A to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Prince Albert's death by exploring his scientific, cultural and architectural legacy in this historic part of London. Showing previously unseen objects from RIBA, V&A and other collections, the show charts the development of South Kensington and the Exhibition Road Cultural Quarter from 1851 to the present day. Through drawings, models and photographs the display examines how the area was significantly influenced by Prince Albert's ambitious cultural ideas.
The display begins with the Great Exhibition of 1851, the profits raised from which Prince Albert decided would be used to purchase land on which to build scientific and artistic institutions. Through maps, drawings and photographs, the display explores the stories behind the design and building of the Albert Memorial, Imperial College, the Royal Geographical Society, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens, the Royal College of Art, the Royal Albert Hall, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Albertopolis curator Susan Pugh says:
'The show offers a diverse range of artefacts, including Great Exhibition souvenirs, evocative 19th century photographs illustrating the complex construction of the Albert Memorial, a contemporary cross-section of the Natural History Museum's Darwin Centre and an unexecuted design by Henry Cole for the V&A.'
As well as the anniversary of Prince Albert's death, 2011 is also the year in which Exhibition Road is being transformed by Dixon Jones into a 'shared space' road to offer pedestrians priority and thereby open up the area for greater public enjoyment. Earlier this year Amanda Levete Architects won the international competition to design a new courtyard, entrance and exhibition galleries for the V&A, the model for which will be on display in Albertopolis.
An online version of Albertopolis is available, complete with a podcast Walking Tour and videos.