Purcell has been working with the National Maritime Museum’s team to transform former library and staff office in the Grade I listed National Maritime Museum into four new exhibition galleries.
Purcell has carefully renovated the new gallery spaces working with the exhibition designers Casson Mann and museum curators who collaborated on the exhibition design. The scheme integrates technical requirements for floor loadings, conservation and environmental control for the artefacts, and narrative interpretative displays. The four galleries are called Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds and Sea Things.
The spaces were previously accommodated by offices and the Caird Library. The library, with features and furniture designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens moved location in 2011 to a new museum library, archive and reading room in the Sammy Ofer Wing. Through careful negotiation with Historic England and the 20thC Society, we were able to reuse some of Lutyens book stacks and panelling to other areas within the museum allowing the library space to be converted to a public gallery. The project included the redecoration of the significant Rotunda designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, housing the bust of Sir James Caird.
Linking the central galleries to the main museum, the project offered us the opportunity to introduce an exciting and contemporary piece of design in the form of a ramped, bridge link. It has resolved visitor circulation within the space and has joined the new galleries to the rest of the museum.
Funded by HLF, the development includes a new classroom hub area, better office facilities and restoration throughout. The project has converted approximately 1000m2 of space into public use to create inspiring spaces to discover the museum’s collections, with over 1,100 more artefacts able to go on display and more learning opportunities than ever before.
By Jess McCulloch