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Museum of London formally appoints Sir Robert McAlpine as Construction Management Company on Smithfield project

Aerial visual of proposed West Smithfield museum

A concept image of the London Museum from above © Secchi Smith

10 May 2023 – Museum of London today announces that contracts have been signed and Sir Robert McAlpine has been formally appointed as Construction Manager on the museum’s new Smithfield site, due to open in 2026.

The appointment of Sir Robert McAlpine will bring technical expertise and experience to the building of one of the largest cultural infrastructure projects in Europe and they will play a key role in the next phase of the construction of a world class museum.

The announcement comes as the museum has completed the first phase of restoration work on the external facades of the almost 150-year-old General Market; a major milestone in construction and part of a plan to conserve the building’s historic fabric, originally designed by Sir Horace Jones.

Meanwhile internal works to the General Market are progressing, preparing it for future use through the excavation of service trenches in the site’s former Salt Stores and Vaults and formation of the new floor level. A stunning 10,000m2 of Victorian brickwork in the basement has also been cleaned and restored to its former glory. Work has now begun to build an impressive layered concrete staircase in the General Market to connect the social spaces of Our Time (dedicated to displays exploring London in living memory) with the spectacular underground spaces of Past Time. This area, comprising of the museum’s permanent galleries, will take visitors on an extraordinary journey through London’s past, using theatrical, sensory and interactive displays to bring the museum’s internationally important collections to life.

The museum will reopen at Smithfield under a new name – The London Museum. The new home will enable the museum to welcome millions more visitors and every London schoolchild through its doors. The museum will open early and close late to reflect London’s 24-hour character, enabling visitors to enjoy more of The London Collection than ever before. The ground floor level will maintain the building’s marketplace feel, giving Londoners a new civic space to explore the capital’s story.

This appointment will be key in helping the museum to achieve its significant sustainability goals, leading the way in sustainable design. Around 70% of the structure of the existing buildings will be retained, with operational carbon reduced through smart technologies that reduce energy requirements and monitor and improve performance over time, and with more than 95% of construction waste diverted from landfill. Sir Robert McAlpine will also work in partnership with the museum on shared social value goals, helping the museum deliver its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion objectives while also creating social value for Londoners by supporting local businesses and partners, economic growth and employment.

Alec Shaw, Director of New Museum Project and Estate, said: “The New London Museum project is one of the most ambitious and complex cultural projects in Europe and one which will be the best city museum in the world once it is completed.

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sir Robert McAlpine to carry out the next phase in this hugely ambitious programme for a new, modern museum which reaches the highest standards of sustainability in both build and operation.

“Their expertise and passion for the project will prove invaluable in realising our vision for a museum which is not only world class but also maintains the unique character of the historic buildings in which it will be housed.”

Grant Findlay, Executive Managing Director, Buildings, Sir Robert McAlpine, said: “We are delighted to be appointed to this project, which is so central to London’s architecture and culture. Our team of experts have long-standing experience of working on iconic landmark buildings. We also share Museum of London’s ambitions for achieving high sustainability targets and creating social value that benefits local communities. We look forward to bringing their vision to life, so visitors and Londoners are able to discover more of our capital’s diverse history.”

The Museum was recently granted planning permission, covering both the General Market and Poultry Market where the new museum will be based, and a suite of buildings known as The Annexe, which includes the Fish Market, Red House and Engine House. A Listed Building Consent application for the Grade II-listed Poultry Market has also been secured.

In preparation for its move to Smithfield, the museum closed at London Wall in December 2022. The Museum of London Docklands remains open.

About 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. 

A fixture on London’s cultural scene since first opening in 1976, the museum is moving house. It closed its doors at London Wall in December 2022 in preparation for its relocation to a new home at Smithfield, where it will occupy historic market buildings and open up to millions more visitors. The new museum will reopen to the public in 2026 under a new name: The London Museum.

The Museum of London Docklands, located at West India Quay in east London, remains open 7 days a week, from 10am-5pm and is FREE to all. You can also explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added regularly.

About Sir Robert McAlpine
Sir Robert McAlpine is a family-owned building and infrastructure company operating across the UK. We have been proudly building Britain’s future heritage since 1869.

We are honoured to have worked on some of the country’s most iconic buildings and projects.

The values at the heart of our operations include a commitment to the highest standards of safety, quality, engineering excellence, sustainability, and a steadfast focus on the needs and aspirations of our clients.

We champion equality and welcome a diversity of talent to our inclusive family culture.

Working in partnership with our clients, we aim to make a positive impact on the communities and the environment in which we operate, as we construct a better world for future generations.