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Competition: Faith Museum fit-out, Auckland Castle

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A design team is being sought for a £1.8 million fit-out of a new Faith Museum inside Auckland Castle, County Durham

The winning multidisciplinary team will create a new 750m² museum documenting 5,000 years of religious belief in Britain inside a landmark new extension to historic former bishop’s palace (pictured) designed by Níall McLaughlin Architects and Purcell.

The project, planned to complete in 2022, is part of a wider £50 million transformation of the Grade I-listed complex into a new visitor attraction and heritage site for the North East of England.

Occupying the ground and mezzanine floors of Auckland Castle’s Scotland Wing, the museum will show how ‘”the search for something greater than ourselves” has shaped the culture of Britain for thousands of years.’

According to the brief: ‘The museum explores the story of faith in the British Isles in four immersive and multi-sensory galleries. All of the displays across the museum ask two questions: ‘What is faith?’ and ‘How has faith shaped Britain?’ The museum does not seek to present definitive answers to these questions, but rather to equip visitors with ideas, stories and deeper understanding to develop their own thoughts in response to these questions.

‘The displays will be unexpected, bold, beautiful, inspiring and, perhaps, a little unsettling. They will present stories from history as examples of the same human concerns and impulses that we share today.

‘The museum will display around 350 objects from many different periods, as well as the present day, in many varied media and in a wide range of sizes. Object displays will be integrated with immersive, interactive and engaging multimedia and graphics.’

Auckland Castle is a former manor house which has been used as a residence by the Bishops of Durham since the early 12th century. The complex was remodelled by James Wyatt in the late 18th century and was purchased by millionaire philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer eight years ago.

The Faith Museum is part of a competition-winning project by Níall McLoughlin Architects and Purcell to restore and expand the building which recently re-opened to the public as a visitor attraction focussing on a collection of rare paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán.

Bidders must hold employer’s liability insurance of £5 million, public liability insurance of £10 million, and professional indemnity insurance of £5 million. Applications will be evaluated 10 per cent on supply chain management and 90 per cent on previous experience.

The deadline for applications is mid-day, 22 May.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information

Contact details

Elizabeth Farr
The Auckland Project
Vinovium House
Saddler Street
Bishop Auckland
DL14 7BH

Email: elizabeth.farr@focus-consultants.com
Tel: +44 2030969717



Clare Baron, head of interpretation and exhibitions, The Auckland Project

Clare Baron

Clare Baron

Source: Image by House of Hues

Clare Baron

Why are you holding a competition for a design team to create a new Faith Museum at Auckland Castle?

The Faith Museum is part of The Auckland Project, a regeneration charity and visitor destination using art, culture, heritage and faith to create positive change for those living, working and visiting the historic market town of Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

The town has played a role in shaping the political, commercial and religious landscape in the North East for centuries and we are building on that legacy to establish Bishop Auckland as a visitor destination, with a lot to offer and a bright future ahead.

This includes opening the Faith Museum, along with a Mining Art Gallery, Spanish Gallery, Walled Garden, Auckland Tower welcome centre and Deer Park, all within a few steps of Auckland Castle – the historic palace of the Prince Bishops of Durham.

Partially housed within the Castle itself, the Faith Museum will be at the heart of The Auckland Project visitor destination. We are therefore seeking a design team that can embrace our purpose and help us to provide opportunities for inspiration and learning for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

What is your vision for the new Faith Museum?

The Faith Museum will be housed in the historic Scotland Wing of Auckland Castle, itself a focal point for faith for over 800 years, as well as in a purpose-built extension. The two interconnecting wings provide new gallery spaces across two floors.

Designed by award-winning Nìall McLaughlin Architects, the extension takes inspiration from mediaeval tithe barn construction and is due for completion in mid-2020.

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Jerusalem Trust, this will be the first museum in England dedicated to stories of faith in the history of Britain, how faith has shaped lives and communities, and what it means in the present day.

The exhibition will examine the human condition and our beliefs, navigating their complexities without steering the visitor towards a set conclusion.

Design innovation will be important in supporting this objective, communicating the narratives throughout the exhibition, and establishing an experience that fulfils the vision and purpose of The Auckland Project itself.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The Auckland Project welcomes submissions from all design teams, including smaller, emerging practices. Tenderers should have demonstrable experience of creating exhibition displays for accredited museums, including working with objects on loan from national institutions, and demonstrate sensitivity to the varying conservation requirements of museum collections.

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