The landmark exhibition will open the East London museum with a bang in 2025

We’ve still got well over a year before the V&A East at the Olympic Park in Stratford opens but we can start getting excited about it now because the opening exhibition has been announced. The Music Is Black: A British Story will celebrate 125 years of Black music in Britain and showcase the contribution that it has made to culture both here and around the world.

The immersive exhibition will use a mix of never-before-seen items, instruments, equipment, personal possessions, photography, film, fashion, and large-scale AV installations to take visitors through a range of genres, including jazz, reggae, 2 tone, drum & bass, jungle, trip hop, garage, dubstep, grime and drill. The stories of a whole range of musicians, from early pioneers like Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Emile Ford and Janet Kay to pioneers like Goldie, Massive Attack, Jah Shaka and Saxon Sound to today’s groundbreaking artists like Sampha, Kano, Stormzy, Little Simz, Ezra Collective and FKA Twigs, will be explored in the show.

Nodding to the museum’s location, the exhibition will also spotlight the impact of East London on Black British music – Rinse FM was born in Bow, Lord of the Mics began in Jammer’s Leytonstone basement, Metalheadz bought us drum & bass at The Blue Note on Hoxton Square, and All Points East in Hackney has become one of the biggest festivals in the UK calendar. Music fans might have a while to wait for this one to open but it sounds like it’s gonna be worth it.

Opens 2025
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20