The stop-start courting of one of London’s most respected museums by a series of regional suitors has been revived, with discussions about a franchise for the Victoria & Albert on Blackpool seafront.
Talks are under way with a view to housing some of the Kensington museum’s vast store of unexhibited items in a “V&A at Blackpool” building, which would have regularly changing shows, in the manner of traditional seaside entertainers, rather than a permanent collection.
Funding for a modern building, which has been an obstacle to previous V&A marriages with centres outside London, would come from Blackpool council and the grand but faded resort’s regeneration agency, ReBlackpool. Blackpool is trying to reinvent itself after the let-down of last year’s supercasino project, in which all its regeneration plans were invested.
Funding arrangements would also free the museum from the responsibility for running costs, which has sunk similar proposals in the past.
Bradford was jilted twice over its hopes of housing the V&A’s exceptional South Asian collection. Earlier this month, the museum said the findings of a £50,000 study into moving the national theatre collection from Covent Garden to Blackpool had led to the shelving of the Bradford idea.
A spokesman for the V&A said: “The findings indicated that the capital cost of creating a major new museum with a large permanent display, and then the revenue cost of running it, were going to be very high. There were significant doubts over the fundraising potential for this and the value for money of the project.”
But the two prospective partners have stayed in talks and the exhibition centre idea is the result. Displays would be likely to concentrate on fashion, photography and jewellery, all strengths of the V&A with potential appeal to Blackpool’s traditional holiday visitors.
Tony Williams, chair of the council’s cultural committee, said that the proposal could fit well with plans to expand Blackpool’s traditional funfairs and donkeys image. In spite of recent decline, the town remains in the world’s top 25 attractions by visitor numbers, beating such opposition as the Pyramids, the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon
Via (The Guardian)