V&A East museum announces 2025 inaugural exhibition and new Culture Council

Image: External render view of the new V&A East Museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O'Donnell + Tuomey. © O'Donnell + Tuomey Ninety90, 2018

The immersive exhibition will explore the contribution Black British music has made to culture, which will inspire a season of programming across East Bank


The upcoming V&A East Museum has announced details of its first exhibition, and the launch of a new Culture Council.

In 2025 it will open its doors to visitors with ‘The Music Is Black: A British Story’, an exhibition exploring how Black British music has shaped British culture and its global impact from 1900 to the present day.

The inaugural exhibition will spearhead a season of collaborative programming across the East Bank, the Mayor of London’s £1.1 billion Olympic legacy project. The BBC, Sadlers Wells East, UAL’s London College of Fashion, and UCL East will join with the museum to celebrate the themes of the exhibition at its shared home at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The exhibition will include never-before-seen new acquisitions and international loans, and will include immersive AV, large-scale installations, and seminal musical instruments, equipment, and personal belongings from some influential musicians.

Dennis Morris, 'Aces Club, Count Shelly Sound System, Hackney’, 1974 (photographed), 2010 (printed) © Dennis Morris Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The museum has also announced the V&A East Culture Council, a group of Ambassadors gathered to amplify the work of V&A East in promoting new creative opportunities.

The roster of V&A East Ambassadors will collaborate on a series of initiatives, in line with V&A East’s “commitment to building a new kind of institution, shaped through partnerships with creatives and local communities”.

Ambassadors will also support V&A East’s community engagement and outreach programmes, co-creation projects and gallery displays.

They will also create content for V&A East’s digital and social media channels, and participate in mentoring and skills-sharing initiatives, as part of V&A East’s

Ambassadors announced today include east London-based artist, Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA, who has partnered with V&A East, Frieze, and Deutsche Bank to help fund V&A East’s current Curatorial Fellow post; Samuel Ross, artist and designer, founder of SR_A and A-Cold-Wall* and the Black British Artist Grant programme, and Klaudia Fior, presenter and content creator for a series of outlets including ITVX, Channel 4.0 and Dazed.

Ambassadors also include Elijah, artist, DJ, founder of Make the Ting and Community Fellow at SOAS and Tito Mogaji and Soji Sonibare, co-founders of Nourishment, an east London based community group celebrating Black British creativity, art, ideas and culture.

Jacqueline Springer, Curator of The Music Is Black: A British Story and Curator of Africa and Diaspora Performance at the V&A, said: “Set against a backdrop of British colonialism and evolving social, political, and cultural landscapes, we will celebrate the richness and versatility of Black and Black British music as instruments of protest, affirmation, and creativity, and reveal the untold stories behind some of the world’s most popular music of all time.”

Gus Casely-Hayford, V&A East Director, said of the inaugural exhibition: “I’m delighted the exhibition will inspire a major season of creative programmes across East Bank. I’m enormously grateful to our East Bank partners, including the BBC who have opened up their archives to us, in helping us take the exhibition beyond our building and into the wider world.”

V&A East has also today revealed new branding, designed by The Face’s creative agency in collaboration with the V&A’s Marketing and Design teams, and the V&A East Youth Collective.