Following last year\'s controversial closure of the Theatre Museum (See News, 5 Jan 2007), the Victoria & Albert Museum has announced the opening of new dedicated theatre and performance galleries at its South Kensington home.

The new galleries, which are due to open in March 2009, will, according to press material, cover “all performance types from theatre and ballet to pantomime and rock music”. More that 250 objects from the V&A\'s collections will be on display including manuscripts, scores, photographs, costumes, props and posters from notable productions.

Highlights include a rare first folio of Shakespeare\'s plays, original posters for productions including the 1956 premiere of Look Back in Anger and costumes worn by the likes of Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton. Also on display will be the skull used by Jonathan Pryce in Hamlet at the Royal Court in 1980 and signed by the cast, and stage models by some of the most acclaimed set designers of the 20th century including Edward Gordon Craig, Alison Chitty and Ralph Koltai.

The galleries act as a replacement for the Covent Garden Theatre Museum, a subsidiary of the V&A which closed in 2007 despite widespread industry and public protest. At the time V&A director Mark Jones stated: “we remain totally committed to safeguarding and displaying these collections which celebrate Britain’s unique theatrical heritage in costume and stage design”.

- By Theo Bosanquet