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National Museums Liverpool announces new firm for £58m transformation

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios) has been appointed by National Museums Liverpool to lead the architectural design of the £58 million major redevelopment of the Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum.

The Dr Martin Luther King Jr. building and the Hartley Pavilion proposals will be developed by the renowned design firm, which will capitalise on the momentum already created on this significant Waterfront Transformation Project strand.

From L-R: Peter Clegg (FCBS), Kudzai Matsvai (UofL), Kossy Nnachetta (FCBS), Geoff Rich (FCBS) and Ilze Wolff (UofL) Image (c) Pete Carr

As a result of the renovation, the International Slavery Museum will have a more noticeable new entrance in the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Building, which will improve visitor orientation and foster a warm welcome while strengthening the museum’s mission and identity.The multipurpose building will host events, foster community collaboration, and provide a venue for educational and engaging programmes. Along with improved commercial amenities like a shop, café, event spaces, and a dynamic temporary exhibition space, the Hartley Pavilion will have better visitor circulation.

People—past, present, and future, local, national, and international—will be at the centre of the redesigned International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum, which will create vibrant, inviting spaces that meaningfully address contemporary issues. This new redevelopment will elevate the national collections of both museums.

Individuals whose lives have been most impacted by the histories being told will actively contribute to the development of both museums.

Photo by Ant Clausen

Appointed in 2022, Ralph Appelbaum Associates continue to lead the exhibition design for both museums.

Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool, said:

“To be bringing two such visionary designers with international reputations to the project represents the bold ambition and thinking behind it. We are delighted they’re keen to embrace this as a co-production project which we feel will create something truly ground-breaking. 

“There has never been a more important time to address the legacies of the transatlantic slavery and the redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum symbolises our, and our region’s, commitment to confronting the significant role the city played in British imperialism.

“Alongside the revitalisation of the Maritime Museum and the wider Canning Dock development, which will bring a renewed focus on Liverpool’s rich maritime history and communities, the project will create a holistic exploration of the heritage of the Liverpool waterfront, as well as a world-class visitor experience.”

The FCBStudios team will be led by partner Kossy Nnachetta, who has been with the practice for 10 years, supported by Geoff Rich and Peter Clegg. Kossy has completed numerous projects for schools and communities and is passionate about community design.

Kossy said:

“FCBS are excited and humbled by the invitation to join the NML team and to lead the architectural transformation of these museums. We understand that there is huge responsibility to help create a platform to tell this story, long whispered, yet still awaiting the space to fully express itself; and all the potent, deep-seated emotions it can elicit. We hope to help create something bold and yet beautiful. The result of ‘many hands’ working together with the museums and communities in Liverpool.”

In order to support the co-production of the designs, FCBStudios will also collaborate with important members of the University of Liverpool School of Architecture. The team will consist of EDI specialist, architectural designer, and PhD candidate Kudzai Matsvai, as well as Head of School Professor Ola Uduku and the school’s most recent professorial appointment, Professor Ilze Wolff, a renowned South African architect and founding partner of Wolff Architects. The three women are interested in changing society to be more equal, free, and anti-racist. They have conducted research and engaged in creative activities related to the topics of gender, race, slavery, colonialism, and imperialism.

FCBStudios has previously collaborated with National Museums Liverpool, having finished the initial masterplan for its waterfront locations in 2019 and providing support for the Maritime Museum Project and the International Slavery Museum’s application to the National Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage Horizon Awards in 2020.

Colleagues at National Museums Liverpool were joined by community stakeholders for the selection and appointment of FCBStudios, including the co-chair of its RESPECT Group. 

Thanks to the kind donations of £9.9 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, players of the National Lottery are able to support this project.

READ MORE: HOPE STREET HOTEL LIVERPOOL CELEBRATES 20 YEARS

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