The spiral staircase, part of the Wellcome Collection's redevelopment plans. Copyright: Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Wellcome unveils £17.5m expansion

Rebecca Atkinson, 24.10.2012
Project includes new thematic gallery
The Wellcome Collection in London has announced major redevelopment plans to create 30% more galleries space and double its capacity for public events by summer 2014.

The £17.5m development project, which will start next year, include opening a thematic gallery on the first floor to offer in-depth exhibitions over a year-long period. Its first exhibition will explore attitudes, education and cultural perceptions of sex.

Ken Arnold, head of public programmes at Wellcome Collection, said that the new gallery aims to bridge the gap between temporary and permanent exhibitions, as well as including elements of live events.

“We want to work around big topics such as sex to curate something that is lively like a temporary exhibition but evolves and is more considered,” he said. “We will build in flexibility to change elements of what’s on display and also use the exhibition to promote debate so it is conversational.”

The current temporary exhibition space will continue to run about three or four exhibitions each year to look at a specific aspect of an issue.

The project will also include a new dedicated youth events studio for 14-19-year-olds to engage with and produce work that contributes to the Wellcome Collection programme.

And the library’s reach will be widened through a new programme of events and the redevelopment of its reading room into a public space for events and displays of books and objects from the collection.
Plans for a second-floor restaurant, in addition to the existing cafe, will increase commercial opportunities while a new spiral staircase will make the first and second floors more accessible.
The Wellcome Collection will remain open to the public throughout the build, which begins on next summer.