The brief was to create a permanent gallery to re-display the Waddesdon Bequest, a collection of Renaissance objects bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild in 1898. The new gallery is located in the Middle Room, originally a reading room for the British Library and one of the oldest surviving parts of the building.
Purcell acted as Conservation Architect leading the design team, whilst also collaborating on the design of new interventions and coordinating the installation of the showcases, which were designed by independent 3D designers. The conservation philosophy was to conserve and re-use as much of the original historic fabric as possible.
The conservation and re-presentation of the Middle Room has restored the room to its former elegance. All joinery was carefully repaired and the original book press doors were reinstated. Display structures have been created so that the room could be put back to its original state if necessary. The new gallery space significantly improves the display of precious objects and is reflective of the collection’s original home, the Smoking Room at Waddesdon Manor.