New V&A museum in Stratford with celebration of Black British music

todayNovember 1, 2023 3

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The V&A’s new home in east London will open with a celebration of Black British music, honouring everying Stormzy to Notting Hill Carnival.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, which was founded in south Kensington in 1852 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, has expanded in recent years, with the V&A Dundee opening in September and the reopening of the Young V&A in east London’s Bethnal Green in June.

The museum’s latest venture is the Stratford venue V&A East, which will open in 2025 with a landmark exhibition exploring the impact of Black British music on this country’s culture.

Spanning from 1900 to the present day, The Music Is Black: A British Story will explore the resilience, struggle, and joy driving Black British music. It will tell the long overdue stories of Black pioneers in the 20th century, and the role east London played.

Curator Jacqueline Springer said: “Music is the soundtrack to our lives, and one of the most powerful tools of unification. It brings collective and individual joy as we recite song lyrics at festivals and gigs, recall dance moves perfected in childhood bedrooms, and mime to guitar breaks, bassline drops and instrumental flourishes with glee.

“Set against a backdrop of British colonialism and evolving social, political, and cultural landscapes, we will celebrate the richness and versality of Black and Black British music as instruments of protest, affirmation and creation, and reveal the untold stories behind some of the world’s most popular music of all time.”

Legendary music presenter Trevor Nelson said: “There are so many different colours and shades of Black music, so many eclectic styles that have emerged from the UK. The fact that we haven’t had a national exhibition on Black British music is quite surprising to me. I feel it needs to be documented. But more importantly, to tell the stories that are untold.”

Stormzy, on stage in August, will feature in the exhibition


The capital city will be the exhibition’s playground, with visitors delving into the places music has and continues to be made: basements, dancefloors, night clubs, studios, record shops, festivals, MC battles, and even Notting Hill Carnival.

For the exhibition, curators were given unprecedented access to the BBC archive, creating a soundtrack spanning generations and genres, from rap to nu classic soul, dubstep, afrobeats and UK drill.

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Attendees will hear directly from culture-defining artists, from Stormzy, Little Simz, Jorja Smith and Ezra Collective in the modern day to the Bee Gees, Joan Armatrading, Billy Ocean and Sade.


As part of the launch of V&A East, the BBC, Sadlers Wells East, UAL’s London College of Fashion, and UCL East will come together to explore the themes of The Music is Black: A British Story with a series of special events and performances in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

In 2025, the V&A’s new home will also display an extensive David Bowie exhibition, after the museum obtained an extensive archive including more than 80,000 items of handwritten lyrics, fashion items, set design and awards.

Highlights include stage costumes such as Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust ensembles, designed by Freddie Burretti in 1972, Kansai Yamamoto’s creations for the Aladdin Sane tour in 1973, and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the 1997 Earthling album cover.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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