Skip to main content Skip to footer

Designs for Museum of London’s new West Smithfield home revealed

1 July 2019

The plans showcase the transformation of a campus of beautiful yet dilapidated market buildings in West Smithfield into a world-class, 24-hour cultural destination, with content- rich displays set inside atmospheric exhibition spaces

• Designed by award-winning architectural team, Stanton Williams and Asif Khan with Julian Harrap Architects, the plans secure the future of the West Smithfield buildings and celebrate the historic buildings of West Smithfield, while creating a unique and memorable visitor experience

• The museum is set to become a Top 10 London attraction, capable of welcoming over two million people a year

• The new home of the Museum will allow the creation of a world-class learning centre and be an integral part of the City’s Culture Mile

The Museum of London has unveiled designs for its new home in West Smithfield, with plans to create a new world-class, 24-hour cultural destination in the historic heart of the capital.

The designs go on display within the currently derelict West Smithfield site from Friday 5 July, as well as at the Museum of London’s existing London Wall site. Visitors will be able to see and comment on the latest plans and ambitions for one of the biggest cultural projects underway in Europe, including how the design team, led by Stanton Williams and Asif Khan with Julian Harrap Architects, have celebrated the architecture of the West Smithfield buildings, which are in desperate need of repair and renewal.

With more space to create blockbuster exhibitions with a broader appeal, the museum will recast its relationship with London and Londoners and secure its place as one of the Top 10 attractions in London. The exhibitions would display more of the museum’s amazing collection – showcasing everything from fashion to fatbergs – and would be set inside atmospheric spaces, making use of the historic buildings both above and below the ground.

The plans would also see the museum become a world-class centre for learning and able to fulfil the museum’s ambitions to reach every London school child and enhance their learning experience. In addition and reflecting the 24-hour Farringdon location, the museum will increase its night-time offer, playing a major role in the capital’s night-time economy.

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

“The new Museum of London will transform what a museum should be as we will become a shared space in the middle of it all, in the middle of London and in the middle of ideas and our shared history. As people will see from our latest design concepts, it will be a totally porous space available night and day to welcome all of London’s visitors. We’ll showcase the London Collection, our 7 million objects, and tell the story of London and Londoners in some of the best examples of British architecture in the city. An integral part of the Culture Mile, the new museum will educate in a world class learning centre, inspire with our high-impact exhibitions and be a space where people come together to relax and reflect in the centre of everything.”

“It’s been remarkable working with such a creative group of architects and designers who have delved deeply into an equally remarkable set of buildings. We’re looking forward to sharing the plans and hearing people’s feedback which we’ll reflect on as we progress into creating more detailed designs in the coming months.”

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair, at the City of London Corporation, said:

"The new Museum of London will be a welcome addition to the City of London’s Culture Mile, an asset for Londoners, and undoubtedly a very popular destination for anyone with a thirst for learning about the capital’s rich and vibrant history."

“The arts and culture sector is essential to the Square Mile, not just because it enriches people’s lives, but also because creative businesses contribute a huge amount to the UK’s economy."

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“This spectacular new home for the Museum of London will cement its place as one of our city’s cultural gems and open up the museum at all times of the day. It is a landmark project that will reveal the fascinating history of our city to millions of Londoners and visitors to the capital every year.”

Paul Williams OBE, Principal Director at Stanton Williams, said:

“Working together as a team - Stanton Williams and Asif Khan with Julian Harrap Architects – have been entrusted with one of the biggest projects of cultural reimagining in London – transforming the historically charged but derelict parts of the late 19th century West Smithfield market into a living museum for the 21st century.

In its new home at West Smithfield, the Museum of London will be an anchor for Culture Mile, a major initiative that will create a vibrant destination for culture and creativity at the heart of the city.”

The Museum of London has an updated budget of £332m for the new museum. This responds to the detailed studies on the historic buildings, which date back to the 19th Century, and the increased investment needed to bring them back into use, as well as the design solutions required to adapt them into a world-class museum.

It has already secured a significant amount of funding for the project, including £192m from the City of London Corporation and a capped contribution of £70m from the Mayor of London.

The museum has a fundraising target of £70m and has already raised £26.5m, leaving a further £44m to raise. This includes generous donations of £10m from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and their affiliated Charity, £10m from the Linbury Trust and £5m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Global law firm, DLA Piper, is the project’s inaugural Corporate Champion.

The aim is to submit a planning application by the end of 2019, with the opening expected in 2024. Once complete, the new museum would become an integral part of Culture Mile, a partnership led by the City of London Corporation with the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London.


Notes for editors

For more press information please contact:
Laura Bates
Assistant Head of Communications
Museum of London
[email protected] 07966 990 816

Declan Bennett
Account Manager
London Communications Agency

[email protected]
07952 835 328

Friday 5 July, 5am-10am
Sat 6 July, 10am-4pm
Sun 7 July, 10am – 4pm
Mon 8 July, 4-8pm
Catering Meats, Unit 307, Charterhouse Street, (near the corner of Charterhouse Street and Farringdon Road) London, EC1A 9L
Monday 5 July – onwards
Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN

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.

The Museum of London is on the move. We want to tell the extraordinary story of London and Londoners in a new museum in West Smithfield, which itself is a deeply fascinating and historic area. We want to engage Londoners with their city and its history and display many more objects from our rich collection. Further information about the move and plans so far: #NewMuseum

About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

About Culture Mile
Culture Mile is an ambitious and transformational initiative that will create a vibrant cultural area in the north-west corner of the City over the next 10 to 15 years. Stretching just under a mile from Farringdon to Moorgate, Culture Mile will have creative exchange, cultural collaboration, and learning at its core in an area where 2,000 years of history collide with the world’s best in culture.

About the Goldsmiths’ Company
The Goldsmiths’ Company received its Royal Charter in 1327 and celebrates its 700th anniversary in 2027. One of the twelve major Livery Companies of the City of London, today the purpose of the Goldsmiths' Company is to contribute to national life by supporting its related crafts, industry and trade and through wider charitable and educational activity. The Company’s Assay Office has been responsible since 1300 for testing the quality of precious metals. The Company is the principal patron of contemporary jewellers and silversmiths, continuing to play an important role in support of the craft by funding apprenticeships and assisting with the technical training of aspiring designer-makers. In 2012, the Goldsmiths’ Centre in Clerkenwell was opened, a state-of-the-art facility comprised of workshops, exhibition space and conference facilities.

In addition, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity supports a range of charitable causes and educational projects with schools and teachers. Read about some of our most recently supported charities here. The Goldsmiths’ Company’s private collection of silver is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, comprising 9,000 items dating from 1300 to the present day. Its contemporary collections are world renowned.

About the design team
The design team comprises of Stanton Williams and Asif Khan, working with the conservation architect Julian Harrap. They won the international design competition to design the new museum at West Smithfield. Their proposed scheme was an outstanding example of London creativity and showed innovative thinking, sensitivity to the heritage of the existing market buildings and an understanding of the practicalities of creating a great museum experience.

Stanton Williams is an award-winning practice, with a reputation for carefully crafted architecture. Founded by Alan Stanton and Paul Williams in 1985, it has successfully completed over 350 architectural, urban design, master-planning, exhibition and interior design projects, winning more than 100 international and regional awards including the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize. Recent London work has included the ‘Open Up’ project at the Royal Opera House and the UAL Campus for Central St Martins at Kings Cross.

Asif Khan is a research and development-led architecture studio who design buildings, landscapes, exhibitions and installations, amongst other things. The practice explores how material and social innovations can fundamentally alter the way people experience and shape their environment. Asif Khan was awarded an MBE for services to Architecture in 2017 and his studio was named ‘Architects of the Year’ by the German Design Council in 2018. He designed the award winning UK Pavilion at Astana Expo in 2017, the Hyundai Pavilion at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and is currently working on the Tselinny Centre of Contemporary Culture in Almaty and the Dubai Expo 2020 public realm.

Julian Harrap Architects is a distinguished medium-sized architectural practice specialising in the repair and restoration of historic buildings, estates and landscapes and the design of extensions and new buildings in historic settings. Their projects have included The Monument in the City of London, the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Neues Museum in Berlin.