V&A objects taken into east London schools for first time

Pupils in east London are seeing objects from the V&A Museum’s collection in school for the first time in the institution’s history.

A new programme, called Your Collection: V&A East in Schools, is seeing items from global history taken into schools in Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest.

There will also be talks and workshops which the museum hopes will empower pupils.

Sarah Green, community engagement and outreach lead for V&A East, said: “Young people will have a unique experience to explore and experience some exceptional objects.”

V&A East will be part of East Bank, a cultural district being built in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Sarah told this paper that east London is one of the most creative areas in the world.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: V&A East's Sarah GreenV&A East’s Sarah Green (Image: Victoria and Albert Museum)

She said the project aims to increase diversity among the workforce of creative industries.

“This new schools programme is just one element of a wider ongoing community engagement programme that is dedicated to connecting with those closest to us in order to be a part of the museum now, up to opening and beyond.”

Among the objects that the museum is taking into schools includes a West African cast gold badge made before 1874 and a ‘Free Zulu’ stainless steel pendant, designed by Kenny Zulu Whitmore and made by inmates in Louisiana State Penitentiary in 2014.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: A West African cast gold badge is among the museum's items going into schoolsA West African cast gold badge is among the museum’s items going into schools (Image: primrose.films/Victoria and Albert Museum)

A 17th century silver scent pomander, or perfume ball, is also being taken into the schools.

It is historically worn during a pandemic to protect wearers from disease, the V&A said.

Sarah added: “(It) holds particular resonance for students today and invites them to draw parallels of their own lived experience and the past.”

Taking the objects into schools is not without its logistical challenges, she admitted.

“There are many considerations to ensure the preservation of these artefacts.

“The conservation team have created handmade, bespoke cases which protect the objects in transit and allow young people to handle and examine the objects up close whilst ensuring they remain protected.

“The teams across the museum have been so supportive and worked so hard to enable us to embark on a truly unprecedented engagement programme that embodies our commitment to revolutionising access for our communities in east London.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: A 17th century perfume ball, which is being taken into schools by the V&AA 17th century perfume ball, which is being taken into schools by the V&A (Image: primrose.films/Victoria and Albert Museum)

Among the schools already visited by the programme are Bow School in Tower Hamlets and Mossbourne Riverside Academy in the Olympic Park.

The museum is focusing the scheme in east London at first but wants it to reach as many schools as possible in the coming years.

Schools interested in the programme can contact [email protected]

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