Museum of London Gets $224 Million to Build New Home

It's the biggest cultural investment ever made by a London mayor.

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Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
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Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Architectural plan for the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Architectural plan for the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.
Rendering of the new Museum of London. Courtesy of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan/the Museum of London.

The city of London has given a major boost to the Museum of London’s plans to move to a new location, in the form of £180 million ($224.35 million) in funding. The new location will revitalize a number of abandoned Victorian-era buildings at the historic Smithfield Market, which has been in continuous operation at the same site since medieval times.

Founded in 1976, the Museum of London is home to over 6 million objects that collectively tell the story of the city’s 2,000-year history, as well as its prehistory, which dates back to 450,000 BC. Currently, it is housed on London Wall, at a busy roundabout near the Barbican Centre that is only accessible via pedestrian walkway above the street. The plans to expand to a new location were initially announced two years ago.

In support of the planned move, the City of London Corporation has pledged £110 million ($137.1 million) and the mayor, Sadiq Khan, has promised an additional £70 million ($87.25 million). The project, which will cost £250 million ($312 million) in total, is expected to create 1,700 new jobs and double annual attendance to 2 million.

The General Market, one of the abandoned Smithfield Market buildings that will be repurposed as the new home of the Museum of London. Courtesy of JamesK1987, via Wikimedia Commons.

The General Market, one of the abandoned Smithfield Market buildings that will be repurposed as the new home of the Museum of London. Courtesy of JamesK1987, via Wikimedia Commons.

“From the outset of my mayoralty, I pledged to make culture a core priority[,] and I’m proud that this is the biggest ever cultural investment made by any mayor of London to date,” said Khan in a statement.

Architects Stanton Williams and Asif Khan will oversee the design of the new buildings in conjunction with conservation architect, Julian Harrap, and landscape design consultant, J&L Gibbons.

The plan is to incorporate many features from the historic buildings, which date to the 1880s, including an iconic dome that will be raised to create a striking, light-filled entryway to the institution. Much of the new museum will be housed in underground galleries, and some spaces will feature views of the planned Crossrail railway lines.

The new museum will feature over 26,000 square feet of permanent exhibition space, plus nearly 5,000 square feet for temporary exhibition galleries. The facility is scheduled to open to the public in 2022, while the museum’s old headquarters will likely be repurposed as a £278 million ($346.7 million) concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra.


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