Celebrating the V&A's new Exhibition Road Quarter

On 1st July Exhibition Road was pedestrianised as part of the V&A's REVEAL Festival and spectacular floating Aerocene sculptures floated high above Exhibition Road

As part of a week long celebration of the opening of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter attracted over 20,000 visitors on the day,  Tomás Saraceno's Aerocene sculptures floated high above the road on 1st July as part of the V&A's REVEAL Festival. Crossing the boundaries between art, architecture and science and activated by only the heat of the Sun, these beautiful air-fuelled sculptures reach up to five metres in size. In addition, a Museo Aero Solar participative sculpture, was created by young people from Kensington & Chelsea via special Aerocene workshops run in partnership with Epic CIC in the run up to the festival. 

Tomás Saraceno and his studio were in residence for the Exhibition Road Commission in late 2016 developing their Aerocene project in collaboration with scientists, designers, engineers and curators from diverse disciplines from Exhibition Road members and wider communities. Aerocene is an open-source, multi-disciplinary project that brings together art and science to imagine a new fossil fuel-free era. The sculptures float without burning fossil fuels, without using solar panels and batteries; and without helium, hydrogen and other rare gases.

Visitors enjoyed the beautiful Aerocene sculpture flying silently and shifting gracefully in the breeze as the heat of the sun activated flight above the pedestrianised Exhibition Road. Attended by the internationally renowned artist himself, this was a moment that celebrated the opening of the stunning new V&A Exhibition Road Quarter as well as the peak of a collaboration which connected and engaged a community of developers, designers, artists, data scientists, creative technologists, atmospheric scientists, musicians, engineers, social scientists and geographers under one common creative vision. 

The V&A's week long public festival of artist commissions, performances, fashion, family activities and collaborations from 20th June to 7th July to celebrated the opening of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, the largest architectural project undertaken by the Museum in over 100 years. Designed by Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete and her practice AL_A, the Exhibition Road Quarter reframes the V&A's relationship with the public and its neighbouring cultural institutions on Exhibition Road.

In the spirit of Albertopolis, the Victorian vision for a cultural quarter of arts and sciences in South Kensington, the V&A collaborated with partners across Exhibition Road. The Royal Albert Hall's Albert Band marched from Princes Gate Mews to the V&A, while the Royal College of Music took inspiration from art and cinema in a series of concerts. Imperial College London gave visitors the chance to hold a cloud in their hand and investigate how variations in pressure lead to changes in our weather system and the Science Museum gave visitors a chance to create their own 'Doodle Bug' machines which scribble across paper to create wonderful pieces of art. Whilst the Natural History Museum revealed some of the past and present wonders of our natural world.

The new entrance to the V&A creates a beautiful and unique new public space for London, and a world-class gallery space - drawing in passers-by and encouraging a wider demographic to engage in art and design. 

The first exhibition in the V&A's magnificent new gallery will be Opera: Passion, Power and Politics opening on 30th September. 

Tomas Saraceno flying his Aerocene sculpture on Exhibition Road
Tomas Saraceno flying his Aerocene sculpture on Exhibition Road (copyright: Hydar Dewachi)

Albert's Band
The Royal Albert Hall's Albert Band playing in the V&A's new courtyard (copyright: Hydar Dewachi)
Exhibition Road
Visitors joined the Museo Aero Solar community by helping to create a new floating sculpture using recyled plastic bags
Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum out on Exhibition Road
Royal College of Music playing at the V&A's Reveal Festival
Royal College of Music playing at the V&A's Reveal Festival (copyright: Hydar Dewachi)