British Museum launches International Architectural Competition

Friday, May 10, 2024
British Museum launches International Architectural Competition

British Museum launches international architectural competition to identify the team that will help reimagine its gallery space for future generations.

British Museum launches international architectural competition to identify the team that will help reimagine its gallery space for future generations.

  • The competition marks a major step in the delivery of the Museum’s Masterplan and will be overseen by an expert judging panel

  • Over a third of the British Museum’s gallery space and significant back of house areas are set to be redesigned, in one of the most ambitious projects of its kind

  • Shortlisted teams will be part of a public display at the end of the year

    The British Museum is today launching an international architecture competition to identify the team who will help transform its famous central London site. Architects from around the world will compete in a two-stage process which will test their creativity, skill and vision.

    The competition marks a further step in the delivery of the Museum’s Masterplan, following the completion later this year of the new Archaeological Research Centre in Reading – a state of the art 15,000m2 storage and research facility – and planning approval for a new Energy Centre to be built – which will phase out the Museum’s use of fossil fuels.

    Applicants will be judged by an expert panel that will be comprised of ten members, chaired by George Osborne. He will be joined by leading experts in this field including Yvonne Farrell, Meneesha Kellay, Mahrukh Tarapor, and Sarah Younger. Mark Jones and Nicholas Cullinan will also sit on the panel alongside representatives from the British Museum’s Board of Trustees: Tracey Emin, Charlie Mayfield and Alejandro Santo Domingo.

    Chair of the British Museum George Osborne said:

    "The British Museum is one of London’s great and most-visited landmarks – and like the city itself, it feels timeless as a space because it constantly evolves. Each generation makes its own contribution: two hundred years ago our forebears commissioned the great classical facade; a hundred years ago it was the King Edward VI building; a quarter of a century ago, it was the Great Court. Now our generation is calling out across the world, and across Britain, for an architectural practice with the imagination, the sympathy and the vision to help us rebuild and restore the most famous galleries of the museum, where our sculptures from

Ancient Greece, Rome and Mesopotamia are displayed. In this home to the history of humanity, come help us – quite literally – build the future."

The western side of the Museum holds a third of its overall gallery space currently housing collections from Ancient Egypt, Greece (including the Parthenon Sculptures), Rome, Ancient Assyria and the Middle East.

The winning team will need to put forward a proposal which is both a contemporary vision for how to present the collection for a modern day visitor experience, but remains sympathetic to the original Smirke building. They will also need to consider how the design can accommodate the Museum’s ambition to remain open to visitors for the period of building works.

The competition is accepting entries from all design teams who feel they have the key characteristics the panel are looking for. Overall they must demonstrate they have the creative ability and design flair to put forward an innovative proposal which reimagines the building but keeps the collection at its heart and recognises how it can be displayed, accessed and preserved for the future. The panel will also be looking for expertise in sustainability – both environmental and economic.

Due to the size and complexity of the Museum’s site and its Grade 1 listed building status, the purpose of the competition is not to find a final winning design. Instead, the judging panel are looking for an experienced and inspirational architect-led team to put forward ideas and proposals to work up with the Museum and collaboratively develop a final design. A public display of the proposals by the final teams will take place this winter.

The British Museum Western Range Architectural Competition is open for entries until Friday 21st June. Full details are available here: competitions/the-british-museum

Stephanie Cime

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Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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