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British Museum set for massive overhaul

RSHP British Museum
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The British Museum is looking at plans to completely overhaul its gallery spaces

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, the museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, said the project would also lead to the upgrading of the building’s dilapidated electricity, gas and water systems.

Fischer described the job as bigger than the renovation of Parliament, which only has 1,100 rooms, compared to the central London museum’s 3,000.

He said the museum was carrying out an early assessment before any work would take place on a phased basis, saying: ‘We cannot close the museum. It’s entirely out of the question.’

According to the article, the work will require a mammoth fundraising campaign, but Fischer pointed out that similar projects at Paris’s Louvre and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum were carried out ‘with the support of their governments’.

One of the project’s aims is to create a more coherent layout – at the moment the Egyptian, Greek and Roman collections are split between different floors.

Although a potential revamp of the displays was known about, the extent of the proposals revealed over the weekend seems significantly larger in scale.

Fischer took over the directorship of the British Museum from Neil MacGregor two years ago.

Last year, the museum’s World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre extension by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. While in 2003 Foster + Partners’ transformation of the museum’s Great Court was also among the contenders for the prize.

The museum has been contacted for comment.

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