A new museum for London

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The General Market – Artistic impression of the General Market from West Smithfield

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The New Museum – Artistic impression of the view from the south-west

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The General Market – Artistic Impression of the interior of the General Market

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West Smithfield – Artistic impression of the exterior of the General Market along West Smithfield

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General Market Basement – Artistic impression of the subterranean spaces beneath the General Market

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The Poultry Market – Artistic impression of the interior of the Poultry Market

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West Smithfield – Artistic impression of the view along West Smithfield, with the Annexe buildings on the left

A new museum for London

We have embarked on an extraordinary journey to create a new museum for London. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconceive what a museum for London can be. On this website, we share some of our initial ideas and concepts. We would love to hear what you think.

The Buildings

The new museum will sit in atmospheric but currently dilapidated market buildings, at the heart of one of the capital’s most historic and creative quarters, Smithfield.

They are a perfect home for a new Museum of London: not shiny new buildings or a grand old palace, but very special market structures grounded in the working and trading history of the city.

Moving to Smithfield from our current site at 150 London Wall means that we will be able to do so much more, for many more people. It will give us street-level entrances in a wonderful neighbourhood, better transport links courtesy of the Elizabeth line, and the opportunity to create innovative new galleries, exhibitions and events. The new Museum of London will be one of the highlights of the Culture Mile, located in the north-western part of the City of London.

Distinctive spaces

We have developed a way of thinking about the main spaces that is based on time – the immediacy of real time, the shared experience of our time, the endless fascination of past time, the interrogation of our collections in deep time, the temporary time of changing exhibitions, and the creativity of imagined time. This will shape how we curate the museum’s content and experiences.

Real Time

Arriving at the museum

Most visitors will arrive on foot, probably from Farringdon station. The new Elizabeth line will serve this station, along with the existing Thameslink and tube lines, making it one of the busiest in London. They will be invited to enjoy the diverse character of the local area as they walk to the museum. We will encourage visitors to come on two wheels as well – we love cycling – and…

OUR TIME

THE GENERAL MARKET

This space, with its beautiful dome, will be where we join with partners and visitors to share our lived experience of London. The space was designed to operate ‘in the round’, and we will honour this intent. It will be a sociable place, with a restaurant, a bookshop for London, a Show Space for learning events, and rich displays on London within living memory. Everyone who enters will bring their…

PAST TIME

BENEATH THE GENERAL MARKET

Visitors will descend from the General Market to find another world below. Here a journey though London’s past will be set within a spectacular underground space. Its exposed ceiling and atmospheric vaults will reveal its unique sense of place. Within this space will be object-rich, theatrical, sensory and interactive displays, full of human drama over more than 10,000 years. They will showcase the unrivalled breadth of our London Collection, made…

Deep time, temporary time, imagined time

The Poultry Market

As visitors enter the Poultry Market, a view will open up of its glorious ceiling, seemingly floating above. Large windows running the length of the building will bring daylight in and offer views through to the sky above. The feel of this space will change through the day and night and with the seasons. In the former cold stores below will be a portal to the London Collection. A working…

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Historic buildings a new museum

Smithfield is a Conservation Area, and the Poultry Market is Grade II listed. Our design approach will pay careful attention to the balance between the red brick and stone of the General Market and Annexe buildings and the modern concrete, glass and copper aesthetic of the Poultry Market. The architects’ vision melds these buildings through contemporary interventions, such as the entrance portals to West Poultry Avenue and the canopy between the Red House and Fish Market.

The story so far

The latest chapter in our long history as the city’s museum began in 2015. The City of London Corporation asked us to consider whether the market buildings at the western end of Smithfield might make an appropriate new home for the museum. A detailed options appraisal concluded that they would.

In 2016, we ran an international architectural competition. From a 100-strong field, we appointed Stanton Williams Architects and Asif Khan with Julian Harrap Architects. We were excited by their melding of a sympathetic approach to the buildings with their ideas for creating a truly contemporary museum.

Since then, we have been exploring the buildings in minute detail, developing our design proposals and mapping complex museum requirements into the spaces – from object stores and conservation laboratories to extensive galleries, learning spaces, shops and cafes.

The world’s greatest city deserves the world’s greatest museum. This major landmark project will be a jewel in our crown

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

This stunning new museum – breath-taking in design, inclusive by nature and a landmark by definition – will be a welcome addition to the City of London’s Culture Mile.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation
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01 / 07

The Poultry Market – Artistic impression of the interior of the Poultry Market

02 / 07

General Market Basement – Artistic impression of the subterranean spaces beneath the General Market

03 / 07

The General Market – Artistic Impression of the interior of the General Market

04 / 07

West Smithfield – Artistic impression of the exterior of the General Market along West Smithfield

05 / 07

West Smithfield – Artistic impression of the view along West Smithfield, with the Annexe buildings on the left

06 / 07

The General Market – Artistic impression of the General Market from West Smithfield

07 / 07

The New Museum – rich with objects, stories and immersive experiences

The Annexe

The Annexe buildings hold great potential to expand the cultural presence in West Smithfield, creating a campus that will truly transform the area. Removal of the 1960s infill will enable a sensitive architectural intervention that stitches together the two buildings and reveals their striking decorative elevations.

The design creates a large covered arena, open on one side to the street. This will provide a great new public space for performances and installations, making it an ideal venue for museum and Culture Mile activities. We are beginning to imagine the possibilities of these streets by staging a series of festivals in the area, working collaboratively with many exciting partners. Over the coming years, we will continue to invite London to join us at great Smithfield events.

Museum of Architects – Designing The New Museum of London