Museum of London raises a further £7 million towards its new home at West Smithfield

28 July 2022 – Museum of London today announces three major donations totalling £7 million from The Garfield Weston Foundation (£5m), The Schroder Foundation and Family (£1m) and the Wolfson Foundation (£1m), which will be used for the creation of its new home at West Smithfield.

The three donations bring the museum’s funding close to its initial £40 million target for the General Market, where it will host a festival curated by Londoners in 2025 before opening under a new name, The London Museum, in 2026.

The new West Smithfield home will enable the museum to welcome millions more visitors and every London schoolchild through its doors. The museum will open early and close late to reflect London’s 24-hour character, enabling visitors to enjoy more of The London Collection than ever before. The ground floor level will maintain the building’s marketplace feel, giving Londoners a new civic space to explore the capital’s story, whilst a spectacular underground space will house its rich historical galleries.

As part of the West Smithfield development, the museum’s footprint will extend into the adjacent Poultry Market, for which the museum is aiming to raise a further £30 million.

The three donations come as the museum has finished restoration work on the external facades of the almost 150-year-old General Market; part of a plan to conserve the building’s historic fabric, originally designed by Sir Horace Jones.

In 2021, The Prince of Wales became Patron of the Museum of London, inspired by and in support of the museum’s work to restore West Smithfield and create the most sustainable museum possible.

Internal works to the General Market building are now progressing, with excavation completed on the site’s former Salt Stores and Vaults to create trenches for ventilation and services. Precast planks, which will form the basis of a new floor level, have been installed. A stunning 10,000m2 of Victorian brickwork in the basement has been cleaned and restored to its former glory. This area will house the museum’s Past Time galleries, which will take visitors on an extraordinary journey through London’s past, using theatrical, sensory and interactive displays to bring the museum’s internationally important collections to life.

Another key milestone in the development of the new museum is the creation of an attenuation tank. Lying three metres deep beneath the basement floor, the tank will store surface and rainwater to protect the museum against the ever-increasing risk of flooding, just one in a range of interventions that will ensure the museum is sustainable for the future and can build towards its aspiration to be a net-zero carbon institution.

Sharon Ament, Director, Museum of London, said:

“We are hugely grateful to The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Schroder Foundation and Family, and the Wolfson Foundation for their support, which is crucial in helping us breathe new life into West Smithfield. We are marching forward at pace to create a fantastic new museum for the city – one that tells the story of London and its people in all its complicated and colourful glory.”  

The Garfield Weston Foundation

The Garfield Weston Foundation has donated £5 million towards the creation of a new home for the Museum of London, to turn the General Market into a 21st century museum. To celebrate this incredible act of generosity, the museum will acknowledge this support, by associating it with one of its permanent galleries. The Weston Gallery will be the home of Physical City and City Machine.

Physical City will explore London’s ever-evolving built and natural environment that continues to transform to keep up with the demands of a growing metropolis. Thameslink trains travelling between King’s Cross and Blackfriars will be zipping through the gallery every few minutes, a true embodiment of the physical city. City Machine, an installation showing the dynamism of the city, will be adjacent to Physical City and act as a focal point for many visits.

Philippa Charles, OBE, Director, The Garfield Weston Foundation said:

“Our Trustees are delighted to become a part of the museum’s future at its new home in West Smithfield, where it will provide access to even more visitors, revitalise historic buildings and rejuvenate an important area. We look forward to the museum opening in its new location, where it will continue to support Londoners and visitors to London and bring the story of the capital to life in a fresh, interactive way.”

The Schroder Foundation and Family

The Schroder Foundation and Family have made a £1m donation, in memory of Bruno Schroder. In the new museum their generous support will be associated with one of the chapters which form part of the immersive chronological Past Time galleries.

Claire Fitzalan Howard, Chair, The Schroder Foundation said:

“We are delighted to support the Museum of London with this gift in memory of Bruno Schroder, who had a long-standing connection to the City of London. In its new home, the Museum of London will have a transformational and lasting impact on London’s cultural landscape, benefiting generations of Londoners and visitors to the capital for years to come.”

The Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation has awarded a grant of £1m towards the new museum and this support will be acknowledged in the new, immersive themed gallery about the Great Fire of London. The museum holds one of the richest collections about the Great Fire, making it a key resource for schools and Key Stage 1 learners.

Paul Ramsbottom, OBE, Chief Executive Officer, the Wolfson Foundation said:

Our funding of the Museum of London is part of a longstanding commitment to heritage and the arts. The new home at West Smithfield will offer Londoners and visitors to the capital a place to reflect on a remarkable heritage and to connect. We are delighted to be supporting this ambitious and exciting development, putting culture at the heart of revitalising cities – a revitalisation that is more important than ever, given the impact of the pandemic.”

The museum will be closing to the public at its current site on 4 December 2022, preceded by a special programme of events, activities and displays celebrating its 45-years at London Wall and giving visitors a last chance to visit before it moves home. The Museum of London Docklands will remain open throughout, changing its name to The London Museum Docklands in January 2023.

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