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RIBA and V&A partnership

An update on our plans to unify our Collections.

06 June 2022

One of the RIBA’s greatest assets – and responsibilities – is our world class collection of over 4 million artefacts: drawings, photographs, models and objects by some of the greatest architects from the Renaissance to the present day.

It is vast in scale and currently stored across five locations including at the RIBA’s buildings at 66 and 76 Portland Place, with some parts at the V&A. Our existing storage spaces will not meet our future needs – estimated at 40,000 square feet – and currently much of our valuable and important material is inaccessible and underused.

As part of our House of Architecture programme, we are planning to bring our collections together, and to open up access to all – from school groups and architects to researchers and the wider public.

Our plans also include developing a reenergised local, global and virtual exhibition programme showcasing the collections – including on and at 66 Portland Place, which will be transformed into an accessible and thriving centre of architecture inspiration and connection.

These plans will ensure we remain well-placed to acquire new archives and other material and will also enable us to focus on digitizing the collections and sharing this incredible material even more widely. This will happen over the next five to seven years.

This is an exciting and unique opportunity for the RIBA to consolidate, re-brand and re-present our collections for our future audiences.

You can read the joint statement below.

The V&A + RIBA Architecture Partnership was established in 1999 as a joint initiative to promote the understanding and enjoyment of architecture. In 2004 the V&A and the RIBA opened the UK’s first permanent architecture gallery and new study rooms at the V&A in South Kensington. The Architecture Partnership staged temporary displays of architectural drawings, ran study days and conferences, and organised educational activities for school children and young people.

After over twenty years of fruitful collaboration, the strategic priorities of both institutions have shifted. The RIBA is focused on the creation of a cultural hub at 66 Portland Place in the form of the House of Architecture, while the V&A now has a department with a dedicated team of Architecture and Design curators who are working with architectural collections across the museum’s sites at V&A South Kensington, V&A East Storehouse and V&A East Museum. The V&A and RIBA Trustees have therefore determined that the Architecture Partnership will run for a further five years before concluding in 2027.

The V&A will continue to share its passion for architecture through a revamped permanent Architecture Gallery in South Kensington and by providing access to the V&A’s collection of architectural drawings and models via the V&A Study Rooms and V&A East Storehouse. The RIBA will focus on the House of Architecture and on developing new ways to bring together and present the Institute’s own outstanding, but currently dispersed, collection to the public and to the architectural profession.

Both institutions look forward to continuing to collaborate on a variety of projects and to sharing their collections with the widest possible audience.

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