News: Theatre Museum to close

Wednesday 27 September 2006

The V&A and the Royal Opera House have announced that they are unable to go ahead with the partnership to run a new centre on the site of the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden.

The organisations said the sticking point had been the investment necessary to transform the current building into a suitable space for the future and the ongoing running costs.

It now looks likely that the Theatre Museum will close in January and the V&A will rehouse its theatrical collections. Its programme will include a major exhibition in 2009 of the collection’s Diaghilev and Ballets Russes costumes, designs and

stage cloths to mark the first performance of the Ballets Russes.

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of The Royal Opera House, said: “We spent a lot of time seeing whether we could devise an exciting plan for the Museum, and secure the funding to make it work. All that effort and energy was worthwhile, but sadly the conclusion we have come to is that it is not going to work. Though there has been a huge amount of moral support for the Theatre Museum, money for the most part has not been forthcoming. From the beginning, we had always seen this as being joint venture between ourselves, the V&A and any number of others from the theatre world. We did not want it

to be a Theatre Museum dominated by the Royal Opera House. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find those other collaborators. In addition, working with the V&A team over the past few months, it has been clear that the capital

costs to freshen up the building and to give it a new lease of life are much higher than originally thought. We do not regret the time and energy we have put into trying to make this partnership work. I think it is right that organizations come together to try and do things in the way we have attempted.”

Mark Jones, the Director of the V&A, said: “Both the V&A and the Royal Opera House had high hopes that together and

with partners we could establish a new centre in Covent Garden. Sadly, the support we need has not been forthcoming. I am grateful to Tony Hall and the Royal Opera House management and Trustees for giving us the opportunity to

explore all the possibilities together and am only sad that, in this instance, a partnership is not possible. The V&A recognises the disappointment this announcement will cause, particularly to those in the theatrical community who would like the Theatre Museum to remain in Covent Garden. However, we remain totally committed to safeguarding and displaying these collections which celebrate Britain’s unique theatrical heritage in costume and stage design.”

Theatre Museum website:

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