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Hoskins to give new lease of life to Edinburgh’s Royal Museum

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December 17 2004

£70m plans to revitalise Edinburgh’s Royal Museum, devised by Gareth Hoskins Architects and exhibition designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates, have been unveiled.

Glasgow-based Hoskins won the international competition to redesign the landmark 19th century museum at the expense of big names such as Terry Farrell and Partners and Allies and Morrison. The work, which will take 15 years to complete, will involve the creation of a new pedestrian forecourt on Chambers Street with glazed entrances at street level, the opening up of the vaulted basement under the main atrium space to create a new reception foyer, and the creation of education space for schools. New visible circulation routes, glass lifts and escalators will also be created in the main atrium, in a bid to encourage people to take in the entire museum – at present, only around four per cent of visitors go above the ground floor. All internationally significant collections will also be re-displayed and new exhibitions created. Galleries will be organised into four zones: natural sciences, world cultures, art and design and science and technology. There will also be a new information centre and balcony café.

“The perception of the museum within the city is slightly dark and inaccessible – the entrance is up a large flight of stairs. Through the creation of a new forecourt, and the opening up of the basement vaults, visitors will be able to move straight into the museum from Chambers Street,” said Hoskins. “They will then move up into the atrium, which will become an introductory gallery, with tasters to help visitors choose which direction to go in.”

Funding for the project will come from a variety of sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund. Funding has been secured for the first phase of the project, an interactive science and technology gallery to be situated in the west wing, due to open by March 2006.

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