Work is under way on the Special Exhibitions Gallery project, which will be housed in historic spaces on the lower ground floor of the Science and Industry Museum’s Grade II Listed New Warehouse. These areas have never before been open to the public.
“This new gallery will originate and host some of the world’s best science exhibitions and help establish the Science and Industry Museum as a beacon for contemporary science and major cultural destination in the coming years,” the Museum’s director, Sally MacDonald, proudly stated. “In revealing this incredible new space, we can’t wait to inspire visitors year-round with more ideas that have changed the world and start to open up new areas of our globally important site.”
The New Warehouse was built in 1882 to provide storage for the Great Western Railway and designed to support the weight of steam trains entering the Warehouse and unloading the cargo through ceiling hatches. The underground areas had been used as museum stores until recently, when plans for a new gallery space were concocted.
The history of the space will in no way be diminished by the scheme, with a key focus of the project being to give visitors a window into the grandeur and scale of the original warehouse. Thick brick walls with steel and brick ‘jack arch’ ceilings will remain in situ following the build.
The Special Exhibitions Gallery has been designed by architectural practice Carmody Groarke, the firm behind recent projects such as the Windermere Jetty Museum.
There will be no National Portrait Gallery style closure at the site; the rest of the museum will remain open as normal throughout the entire project. The Museum’s Power Hall is also currently undergoing restoration and is due to reopen in 2021.
The £5 million Special Exhibitions Gallery is being funded by the Wellcome Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Zochonis Charitable Trust. Additional support has been pledged by the DCMS, Kirby Laing Foundation and Friends of the Museum of Science and Industry.