Bold plan to move Museum of London to Smithfield Market
PUBLISHED: 11:22 27 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:23 27 March 2015
Exhibitions could move to 800-year-old Farringdon market by 2021 if plan gets the nod
An ambitious plan to move a famous museum to a beleaguered 800-year-old market has been hatched.
The bid to relocate the Museum of London to Smithfield General Market, in Farringdon Road, from its current home on a roundabout in nearby London Wall was revealed yesterday.
Speaking at a fund-raising dinner last night, the museum’s director Sharon Ament unleashed her vision for the Grade II listed Farringdon building.
She said: “Our ambition is to create a new museum to meet the needs of Londoners and visitors to London, the world’s greatest city.
“We want to do this by 2021. We do not currently have the space to present our collections properly, or demonstrate the research behind them.
“Our visitor numbers have doubled in recent years and continue to grow; our schools programme is at capacity.”
She added: “With approval of our governors, the next phase will see us consider in detail the logistics and viability of relocating from London Wall to Smithfield General Market with the aim of creating an unrivalled experience and contributing to the regeneration of a vibrant and historic part of London.”
The market, built in 1883, has had a turbulent recent history - a scheme to knock down a quarter of buildings and build a seven storey office at the Farrindgon market was opposed by celebrities – including writer Alan Bennett and Four Weddings and a Funeral star Kristin Scott Thomas – before being blocked by the Secretary of State Eric Pickles.
Christopher Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said: ‘The Museum of London’s ambition to move into Smithfield General Market is potentially great news both for the future of this historic London building and for the museum itself - which is likely to see more footfall.
“Relocating the Museum into Smithfield Market would also appear to be the kind of “beneficial use” envisaged by the Secretary of State during the public inquiry. “However, our stance will ultimately depend on the detailed plans. We look forward to working with the Museum to help ensure that any alterations to the buildings preserve what makes them special.”
At last night’s dinner, Ms Amnet shared a message form Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
He said; “The Museum of London tells the incredible story of this great city through its unique and exceptional collection.
“The London 2012 cauldron, the head of Serapis found in the Temple of Mithras, the Cheapside Hoard and the original lift from Selfridges are just some of the objects held by this cultural gem, but it desperately needs more space.
“In its new home at Smithfield General Market the Museum of London will be able to unleash its full potential to attract millions of people each year and work with even more schoolchildren.”
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