Gus Casely-Hayford. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Gus Casely-Hayford Named Inaugural Director of V&A East

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London announced today that Gus Casely-Hayford will become the first director of its new outpost, V&A East, which is currently being constructed in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park—the site of the 2012 summer Olympics—and is expected to open in 2023. Casely-Hayford will be responsible for developing the creative strategy and programming for the five-story museum and will take up his new post in the spring of 2020.

Currently, the British curator, cultural historian, and broadcaster serves as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. Previously, he has lectured widely; advised numerous organizations, including the Tate Britain Council and the Royal Shakespeare Company; sat on the boards of the National Trust, the Caine Prize for African Writing, and London’s National Portrait Gallery; and presented several television series, such as Tate Britain’s Great British Walks for Sky Arts and BBC Two’s The Culture Show. In 2018, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to arts and culture.

“I feel enormously privileged to be asked to become part of the fantastic V&A team,” Casely-Hayford said. “We are going to craft dynamic and compelling ways for our audiences to get close to the extraordinary, to be transported across time and geography by the most beautiful and intriguing things. We want to give you the tools to tell and retell your own stories through objects that move you—and to change the way that we think about ourselves and the world.”

Once completed, the O’Donnell + Tuomey–designed museum will offer nine thousand square feet of exhibition space to the Smithsonian Institution as part of a new partnership that will involve the presentation of jointly curated exhibitions. In addition to the main building, a Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed research center, which will boast 250,000 objects, a library, and an archive, is being built a few blocks away. V&A East will also be neighbors with the University College London’s new campus; the University of the Arts, London’s College of Fashion; a mid-scale Sadler’s Wells Theater building; and the BBC’s new music studios. The new cultural corridor—dubbed the East Bank—is expected to draw an additional 1.5 million visitors to the area.