Art and artistsCultureLocal

Gus Casely-Hayford selected as first director of V&A East

Augustus Casely-Hayford, writer and broadcaster, current director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington US and part of East London’s Casely-Hayford fashion dynasty, has been appointed director of Victoria and Albert Museum’s new project, V&A East.

Augustus (Gus) Casely-Hayford is the brother of the late Joe Casely-Hayford, a pioneer in the fashion world who mixed traditional tailoring with streetwear inspired by the East End. Moving across generations, Joe’s son, Charlie Casely-Hayford, followed in his father’s footsteps and is founder of the Casely Hayford menswear fashion brand, which first formed on Brick Lane.

But Gus Casely-Hayford’s primary field of  interest lies in African arts, history, and culture. Born and educated in London, Casely-Hayford received a doctorate in African history. Since then, he has been involved in numerous creative projects, such as developing an exhibition exploring Britain’s abolition of slavery for London’s National Portrait Gallery. 

Alongside being an author and lecturer, Casely-Hayford also presented Lost Kingdoms of Africa for the BBC. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the arts and culture in 2018. 

Set to be the largest of its kind, the V&A East project, co-collaborated with Smithsonian Institution, will be comprised of a new museum at Stratford Waterfront and a new collection and research centre at Here East.

Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum and research complex  in the world, managing 23 museums and cultural spaces across Washington and New York, including the one Casely-Hayford is currently leading. 

Situated between residential areas and public institutions, the V&A East museum will feature the collections of the two cultural institutions, as part of V&A’s partnership with Smithsonian. It also aims to be a cultural hub for the East End, whilst remaining global in its outlook to reflect the diversity of the local community.

The development is expected to change the way museums are experienced and interacted with, involving pop-up displays, workshops and live illustrations of the museum’s current work in the research centre. Both buildings are proposed to open in 2023. 

External Render view of V&A East
External render view of V&A Museum at Stratford Waterfront, designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey. © O’Donnell + Tuomey / Ninety90, 2018

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