Why do you need to move?
The Museum of London is going from strength to strength but over the last 40 years we have reached capacity at our London Wall site. The number of people visiting our museums continue to grow impressively each year, with two consecutive record breaking years. We are working with more London schools than ever before and sales for our paying exhibitions are stronger than ever before, but there is still more work to do to create a museum that meets the needs of Londoners and visitors to the city.
Why West Smithfield?
The site at West Smithfield is located in the City of London and covers approximately 25,000 sq m. It comprises a series of vacant buildings including Smithfield General Market, the Fish Market, the Red House, and the Engine House. These buildings, most of which are Victorian, sit at the Farringdon Road end of West Smithfield, where records show there has been a market for nearly 1,000 years and archaeological remains go back to the Bronze Age – so there could hardly be a more resonant site for London’s new museum. Locating a new museum at West Smithfield could significantly contribute to the continuing rejuvenation of the Smithfield area and build on the opportunities presented by the new Crossrail station at Farringdon, as well as being an integral part of the City’s ever strengthening cultural hub.
What more can you tell me about the new museum?
Our vision is that the whole look and feel of the new building will embody London. On entering there will be a sense of wonderment, of worlds to explore that will explain the story of London in a compelling way and utilising collections to generate ‘atmosphere’ as well as explication.
The new museum will be able to welcome 2 million visitors a year and we will also finally be able to show never seen before artefacts from our rich collection, which are currently sat in storage due to the space constraints at our current site. It will be home and show-case to the ‘London Collection’, with increased exhibition space and a state of the art Learning Centre.
Clearly there is a lot of work to turn this vision into a reality but our search for an outstanding architect is a major first step to realising that vision.
How will you achieve this?
There is now real momentum behind the project. We have the support of the Mayor of London, the City of London Corporation, and many of our other supporters. We have started a major search for world class architects. We have a clear programme in place and are confident that in five to six years the proposed new museum at West Smithfield will open and captivate Londoners and visitors alike.