The Museum of London is due to close later this year and will reopen as The London Museum in a new £337million home in Smithfield in 2025.
The museum, currently based in a 1970s building on London Wall, has been working for some years on the redevelopment of a group of old buildings in Smithfield Market near Farringdon, but there comes a time when all the historic artefacts have to be moved site to site, and this process begins next year.
Prior to closure, from June 2022, a series of events, activities and exhibitions at the existing Museum of London site will celebrate the successes of the museum over the past 45 years. This will be the very last chance for Museum of London fans to visit the museum in its current location before expert curators and restorers carefully move the objects to West Smithfield.
The museum will last close to the public in December 2022, although the Museum of London’s second site in Docklands is unaffected and will remain open to visitors.
Following the move of the main museum to the larger Smithfield site, the London Museum will be able to open up to millions more visitors and show more of its collection than is currently not possible to display due to the lack of space on the current museum site. .
They have also confirmed that the Cheapside Hoard will be on full display for the first time when the new museum opens. Featured only once in an exhibition in 2013, the Cheapside Hoard is the world’s finest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewelery discovered by chance on a construction site.
Preparation work for the new museum has been underway for some years. A team led by Stanton Williams and Asif Khan Studio with Julian Harrap Architects worked on a masterplan for the reuse and restoration of the existing historic fabric, with contemporary interventions.
Part of the team’s proposals saw the restoration of the exterior of the General Market Building and other areas, with conservation work led by Julian Harrap Architects. This work, the first stage of which is now complete, has restored the grand and historic façades of the Marché Général to their former glory.
The design and restoration process revealed some architectural surprises, including forgotten underground vaults that were part of the market’s former cold stores, which will be used as an interactive exhibition space. This is one of the most atmospheric and evocative parts of the museum.
Another discovery was Lockhart’s Temperance Cocoa Rooms, an establishment that encouraged abstinence in the 19th century. As part of the redevelopment, the Cocoa Rooms will be brought back to life with restored original tiles.
Also forming the perimeter of the London Museum is a ‘main museum street’, a row of terraced houses that will house independent shops, cafes, social enterprises and cultural partners.
The museum reuses the underground spaces of the former Meat Market, and part of the redevelopment will leave a large wall of glass next to the Thameslink railway which runs under the market, so commuters will be able to look into the museum from passing trains. .
Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said: “The countdown begins now. This summer we will celebrate 45 years at our London Wall site, honoring our great past at the center of London life before we look forward to being reborn as The London Museum.
As part of West Smithfield’s master plan for the development, the London Museum plans to expand its footprint into the adjacent poultry market, providing new exhibition space for an ongoing program of temporary exhibitions.
The former museum site is intended for an office development.