Maritime Museum south vestible CGI, NML, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios is the architect behind the reimagined entrances for the Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum. Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Plans in for £58m Maritime and Slavery museum revamp

National Museums Liverpool is on track to add new entrances and a link bridge between two of its attractions, with an application showing detailed designs for the project.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios is the architect for the scheme, which would see a 960 sq ft entrance pavilion built for the International Slavery Museum, a glazed roof lantern added to the atrium, external doors to the west pavilion, and a 320 sq ft link bridge connecting the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building to the Hartley Pavilion.

International Slavery Museum exterior, NML, c Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The entrance pavilion includes both stairs and ramps. Credit: FCBS

The Maritime Museum at the Hartley Pavilion would receive, in turn, two new glazed vestibules – a 635 sq ft one for the main, northern entrance and a smaller 250sq ft one for the dock-facing southern one. There would also be a rooflight added to the lecture theatre.

The new entrance for the ISM would allow those entering the museum by ramp or stairs to have the same experience. The existing steps for the MLK building and its front door would be reimagined by artists throughout the year.

Much of the work focuses on improving accessibility for both museums, with lifts being added, building layouts being simplified, and more accessible toilets being installed. There will also be new exhibition spaces and multifaith spaces.

Maritime Museum north vestible CGI, NML, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The north vestibule would create a newer entrance for the museum. Credit: FCBS

Looking out for those who get overwhelmed by noise, there will be a quiet space on the second floor of Hartley Pavilion – as well as reflection spaces along the link bridge.

The application submission follows from NML’s consultation on the project earlier this year.

While FCB is the main architect for the project, it is working with the University of Liverpool on the initiative. Much of the work builds upon designs from the project’s former architect, Adjaye Associates.

The exhibition spaces have been designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

International Slavery Museum view in atrium, NML, c Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

ISM’s revised atrium would have more space for events. Credit: FCBS

If planning permission is secured from Liverpool City Council, the £58m could start on site in spring 2025. At this time, the museums would close, reopening when work finishes in 2028.

Funds for the scheme come from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

In addition to FCB, the project team includes The Planning Lab, Buro Happold, The Environment Partnership, AKTII, Atelier Ten, Donald Insall Associates, Sandy Brown, Windtech Consultants, and Ridge.

You can learn more about the project by searching application reference number 24F/1620 on Liverpool City Council’s planning portal.

Click any image to see more images from the application documents.

Your Comments

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The glassed addition to the old Dock traffic office is not suitable and demeans the integrity of the architectural splendor of the building.
Why is this being allowed to happen when new builds in other areas of the city have to blend in with similar buildings that may be 500 metres away?

By Liverpolitis

What an outrageous sum of money for what is being delivered. The museum closing for 3 years is a blow also!

By Abots

Great to see investment.

I worry that they’re importing American stories of slavery and liberation. E.g. Dr Martin Luther King – what’s his role in Liverpool’s history?

Liverpool was an exporter of people. Funding and conveying the immoral slave trade from west Africa, then later acting as a the hub for Europeans to consensually travel to north America, Australia, etc. Those left behind after running out of money forming a melting pot that is the modern city. Defending the Atlantic during WW2. But with the waterways always the constant in the story.

We’ve plenty of our own history (both dodgy and delightful) to tell without repasting America’s.

By History

The provision of disabled access to the former Dock Traffic Office will inevitably ruffle a few feathers amongst the purists but it must be done. New add-ons to older buildings are nothing new eg the Clore Gallery at Tate Britain or the internal lift access at the Royal Academy, but needs must.
Meanwhile a new entrance to the Maritime Museum is overdue as currently the entrance is small and in poor weather is windswept and unenticing.

By Anonymous

This amount of intervention in a Grade 1 listed building is completely unnecessary, creating great harm. The feeling of the heritage dockyard must be kept and to place lightweight structures against these powerfully detailed buildings has not achieved this, thus completely diminishing and diluting the almost physical experience of walking around and entering into these structures. I admire most of the approaches of the FCB studio schemes elsewhere, but it may be that they have been shackled in their creativity by what has been handed to them by previous architects. This is not the way to go. There surely is enough space in the adjoining warehouse structures if more space is required. Bridges between structures are totally acceptable as this is a common feature in dockland areas, not affecting the ground floor experience. Gentrifying the entrance to the museum by use of a lightweight glazed screen again diminishes the solidity of the exterior of this unique Jesse Hartley and Philip Hardwick designed building. It is unique. These proposals change it into an ordinary backdrop to a modern assemblage, lacking merit on its own. The Dock Office is a perfect grand entrance, long in search of an important entrance function. What a gift? It doesn’t need an apology of an entrance beside it. The old obviously would need to be re-sculpted slightly in an appropriate manner to provide for disabled access.
This proposal MUST be rethought. The old listed environment must be maintained and a solution found to work around this.

By Joachim Zadow, Past President of the LAS and RIBA Merseyside Branch

FCB look to have responded to a poor brief creatively, but there is no getting away from the really negative impact of what is proposed for Grade 1 listed buildings. The new entrance really does wreck the proportions of the Dock Traffic Office, which is otherwise capable of major interventions having no original interior left.
If people aren’t visiting the rest of the Maritime Museum, it’s because it’s been run for some time by people with very little interest in the city’s wider maritime heritage, rather than people not being able to find the entrance without some sort of lean-to conservatory being put across the front.
As ever, it seems to be museum/arts managers needing to show they can deliver a big capital project in order to move on to more prestigious jobs elsewhere, regardless of whether it is really needed, in this case by an organisation which keeps pleading poverty when it comes to paying its workers adequately.

By Rotringer

I’m compelled to mirror King Charles’s comments about the National Portrait Gallery: that addition to the Dock Traffic Office is a carbuncle on the face of a much-loved friend.
Jesse Hartley took Hardwick’s designs and balanced them out perfectly. It is a lesson in harmony, now ruined by these proposals. NML would be better focused on investing in and improving maritime exhibits rather than self-congratulatory architectural interventions that do little good and plenty of harm.

By More Anonymous than the others

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