Museum of London reveals name change as it prepares to relocate - Museums Association

Museum of London reveals name change as it prepares to relocate

Union calls on museum to minimise redundancies ahead of temporary closure in December
Capital projects Redevelopment
The London Museum's new Snow Hill entrance, West Smithfield
The London Museum's new Snow Hill entrance, West Smithfield Design by Asif Khan Studio, image by Mir

The Museum of London will be renamed the London Museum when it opens at its new home in Smithfield Market in 2025.

The institution confirmed this week that it will close its current London Wall site in December this year to prepare for relocation.

The union Prospect has called on the museum’s management to take action to minimise any job losses that may result from the two-year closure.

Sue Ferns, Prospect’s senior deputy general secretary, said: “We are disappointed that in Museum of London’s fanfare about the new site at Smithfield, no mention was made of staff and the likely job losses that will come about from closing the London Wall site from December.

“Prospect members are excited about the new museum but there are people, mainly on the lower end of the pay scale, who may now be facing redundancy. Management have indicated that they will consult with Prospect about their plans at the earliest opportunity, that opportunity is surely now.

“It is our hope that working with the Museum of London we will be able to minimise likely job losses. All options should be looked at and we call on management to speak to other museums about placement opportunities for our experienced and knowledgeable members, with the possibility of returning to the Museum of London when the new site opens.”

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A museum spokesman said: “We are assessing the impact of closing London Wall. No decisions about staffing have been taken yet, and we will of course consult with staff and Prospect in line with our legal requirements.”

From June this year, a series of events, activities and displays are planned to celebrate the museum's time at the London Wall site, where it has been since 1976.

New home

The announcement this week revealed more details of what the museum's new home will look like.

The London Museum plans to host a festival curated by Londoners to mark its opening in the renovated General Market building in West Smithfield.

With an architectural team led by Stanton Williams, Asif Khan Studio and Julian Harrap Architects, it is hoped the redevelopment will enable the museum to attract millions more visitors and showcase more of its collection.

The new galleries will cover key moments in London history© Atelier Brückner

The new site will benefit from more accessible transport links, with Farringdon station just a short walk away, where the new Elizabeth line will stop when it opens this year. It will be one of the only museums in the world with a trainline running through it, with Thameslink trains running between King’s Cross and Blackfriars station passing through its galleries.

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The museum plans to open early and close late to reflect “London’s position as a 24-hour global city”. It will also offer extended opening hours on Friday and Saturday nights to attract visitors to West Smithfield throughout the weekend.

The venue plans to put young people at its heart, with an ambition to welcome every schoolchild in London through its doors. A guided tour given by the animals that have lived in London promises to be “the capital’s most fun museum experience for children”.

Much of the museum’s collection will be housed in an object-rich underground gallery space. Displays will cover key moments in the city’s history from the Roman era to the birth of celebrity culture and the digital age.

A new Goldsmiths Gallery will display pieces from the Goldsmiths’ Company’s contemporary collection alongside the Cheapside Hoard of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery, which will be displayed in its entirety for the first time.

The ground floor level of the museum will retain the feel of the former marketplace, acting as a civic space that will host exhibitions and events curated and designed by the city’s creative talent.

This level will also explore issues relevant to Londoners, such as the city’s history of protest and people’s experiences of Covid. The Trump baby blimp, which was acquired by the museum last year, will hover over the displays.   

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Meanwhile, forgotten underground vaults that were discovered during the design and renovation process will be used as interactive exhibition space.

At the periphery of the building, a “museum high street” will be established housing independent shops, cafes, social enterprises and cultural partners.

An aerial view of the Smithfield Market building © Stanton Williams/Secchi Smith

The museum's director Sharon Ament said: “This will be more than a museum, it will tell the story of all Londoners – past, present and future; it will be a new civic space for millions of visitors to enjoy, 24 hours a day, and it will be a living, breathing building that buzzes with the energy of Londoners. It will bring a new economy and foster a new relationship between people and the place in which they live, work or are visiting.

“The countdown starts now. This summer, we’ll be celebrating 45 years at our London Wall site, honouring our great past at the centre of London life before looking forward to being reborn as the London Museum.”

The organisation’s east London site, the Museum of London Docklands, will be rebranded as the London Museum Docklands.

Correction
13.02.2022

The London Museum won't be the only museum in the world with a train line running through it, as originally reported. The M+ museum in Hong Kong has two transit lines running through its subterranean gallery space.

Comments (3)

  1. Tony Heaton says:

    who is responsible to ensure it is fully accessible in all aspects for disabled people, 14% of all visitors?

  2. Tom Morgan says:

    @Gkendall – Respectful correction: London Museum will NOT be the only museum in the world with a trainline running through it, as M+ in Hong Kong (already opened in Nov 2021) has a line running through it – see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G-1mO1BSiA.

    1. Geraldine Kendall Adams says:

      Hi Tom, thanks for letting me know – I’ll update the story now.
      Best,
      Geraldine

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