LONDON (Reuters) - London's Victoria and Albert Museum has built a vast, underground exhibition space as part of a 55 million pound refurbishment.
The three-year project saw the equivalent of 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools of earth removed from the site of the art and design museum to accommodate the new Sainsbury gallery, 18 metres below ground.
The new facilities, dubbed the Exhibition Road Quarter, are the biggest building project at the museum in a century.
They also include the new Sackler Courtyard open space and the Blavatnik Hall, which will provide a new entrance to the popular tourist attraction.
In a nod to the museum's championing of ceramics, the courtyard is paved with 11,000 handmade porcelain tiles, arranged in 15 different patterns.
"What we’ve done ... is create this living room for London which blends the street and the museum," said Tristram Hunt, the director of the museum.
The museum will open the new facilities to the public on June 30.
Reporting by Jason Mansaray; Writing by Mark Hanrahan; Editing by Alison Williams