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Mayor of London and City of London Corporation pledge support for new Museum of London at West Smithfield

24 January 2017

  • Museum of London confirms £180 million of £250 million fundraising target to create new museum in West Smithfield
  • This significant milestone follows the appointment of world-renowned architects Stanton Williams and Asif Khan in July 2016.

The Museum of London’s plans for a new museum in West Smithfield were today given a major boost thanks to huge support from the City of London Corporation and the Mayor of London, who have pledged £110 million and £70 million respectively.

This marks an important next step for the project, which will save one of the last remaining derelict Victorian buildings in central London and transform an area of the capital with a rich and fascinating history.

The support from Sadiq Khan is the largest cultural investment made by any Mayor of London, and together with City of London Corporation’s unprecedented investment, provides a £180 million package of confirmed funding towards its approximate £250 million cost.

In addition to conserving this historically important West Smithfield site, this ambitious project will deliver significant economic and social benefits for London and Londoners. This includes traineeship opportunities across London and approximately 1,700 new jobs.

Located right next to the major new transport hub to be created at Farringdon, the new museum will be ideally situated to make the most of London’s biggest infrastructure project, Crossrail, and help to turn the area into a dynamic destination.

As part of a burgeoning cultural hub within the City, the new museum will aim to broaden its visitor profile and double its visitor attendance from one million to more than two million, displaying much more of its rich collection of over 6 million items, telling the 2,000-year story of London, in 8,000m2 of permanent gallery space plus 1,500m2 of temporary exhibition space.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, who was touring the West Smithfield site, said:

“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. The world’s greatest city deserves the world’s greatest museum, which is why I’m delighted to announce £70 million of funding for the new Museum of London. This is on top of the £110m funding announced by the City of London Corporation.

“This major landmark project will be a jewel in our crown. It will reveal 2,000 years of fascinating London history for Londoners, visitors and every schoolchild in the capital. It will rejuvenate West Smithfield, protecting its heritage while also creating a dynamic new public space - strengthening London’s credentials as an international powerhouse for culture.”

Mark Boleat, Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee at the City of London Corporation, said:

“It is widely recognised that the current building at London Wall does not allow the Museum to expand and flourish, and that the former market buildings are in a poor state of repair. The approval of this significant contribution makes good business sense and is a major step forward towards the creation of a new Museum of London, both iconic in design and unparalleled in the way in which it tells the capital’s vibrant history.”

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said:

“This is simply fantastic news and a great way to start 2017. The £180m funding package from the City of London Corporation and Mayor of London provides us with the perfect springboard for the fundraising drive for the new Museum of London at West Smithfield. It also shows that, like us and many others, the Mayor of London and City of London Corporation recognise the huge benefits for London that a new Museum of London at a rejuvenated West Smithfield will deliver.

“Working with our design team we can now move forward confidently with detailed plans for the new museum and remain firmly on target to open the new Museum in 2022.”

This funding milestone follows the appointment of the architects Stanton Williams and Asif Khan in July 2016. The design team, which also includes conservation architect, Julian Harrap, and landscape design consultant, J&L Gibbons, is now working to turn the initial concepts into a fully formed vision for the new museum alongside the City of London Corporation and the GLA. This includes further analysis of the complex West Smithfield site, a critical piece of work that will feed into the design process.

Following a full and extensive public consultation process, a planning application is expected in 2018 to enable the delivery of the new museum by 2022. Further appointments to the project team are due to be announced over the next few months.

Further information:


Notes to editors

For more information, images or interviews please contact:
Helena Carrie, ([email protected]) / 020 7612 8480 / 07791181557
Anna Mitra, ([email protected]) / 0207 291 1507 / 07850 293 670
Declan Bennett, ([email protected]) / 020 7291 1504
Laura Bates, Museum of London, ([email protected]) / 020 7814 5511
Andrew Marcus, Museum of London, ([email protected]) / 07725 617 865
Chris Calvert, Mayor’s Press Office, ([email protected])
Andrew Buckingham, City of London Corporation ([email protected])

The New Museum - funding and costs

  • The commitment of the City of London Corporation and the Mayor of London is a fundamental impetus behind the project, and will be essential in galvanising London’s support.
  • The cost of the New Museum project is anticipated to be in the region of £250 million, although the exact cost of the project will be firmed up as the design of the Museum progresses and a full analysis of the complex West Smithfield site is undertaken.
  • Much of the estimated £250m cost will be spent on bringing the historic West Smithfield buildings back into use.
  • The project will be funded through major support from the City of London Corporation, the Mayor of London and a fundraising campaign spearheaded by the Museum of London.
  • The City of London Corporation has pledged £110m to support the project. This figure was approved at the City of London Corporation’s Court of Common Council meeting in December 2016.
  • The Mayor of London, who has given the project his full backing, has pledged £70m to support it. The GLA funding for the project will be in the form of a long-term loan from the City of London Corporation, to be paid back over a period of 25 years.
  • The Museum of London will raise the remainder of the project costs through a major fundraising campaign from 2017. This announcement provides the perfect springboard for the fundraising drive for the new museum.
  • The fundraising campaign will bring together major philanthropists, charitable trusts, companies and, ultimately, Londoners themselves.

The Museum of London

  • The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day.
  • Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.
  • The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm and is free to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added.
  • Over the last 40 years, the Museum of London has reached capacity at its London Wall site. London’s population over that time has grown by over 1.5 million and in the past ten years, visitors to London have more than doubled. We need more space to meet the interest in London, from residents and visitors alike, and to expand our learning offer too.
  • The Museum undertook a site options appraisal which concluded in March 2015. This determined that the West Smithfield Site provided the best value.
  • Under the ‘do nothing’ option in which the Museum remains in its current location, there is a capital cost of £50m – this is the amount to maintain the current visitor experience rather than improve it.

About West Smithfield

  • The site at West Smithfield is located in the City of London and covers approximately 25,000 sq m. It comprises a series of vacant buildings including Smithfield General Market, the Fish Market, the Red House and the Engine House.
  • These buildings, most of which are Victorian, sit at the Farringdon Road end of West Smithfield, where records show there has been a market for nearly 1,000 years and archaeological remains go back to the Bronze Age – so there could hardly be a more resonant site for London’s new museum.
  • Locating a new museum at West Smithfield would significantly contribute to the continuing rejuvenation of the Smithfield area and build on the opportunities presented by the new Crossrail station at Farringdon, as well as being an integral part of the City’s ever strengthening Cultural Hub.
  • Meanwhile, the move to the West Smithfield site will release the Museum’s existing London Wall home and bring it back into valuable use.