Royal Museum revamp by Ralph Appelbaum

National Museums of Scotland is poised to announce the appointment of Ralph Appelbaum Associates to the £7m overhaul of Edinburgh’s Royal Museum. The appointment will follow a series of unpaid pitch presentations that have taken place over the past month, featuring a shortlist of six applicants, comprised of a mixture of individual design groups and consortia.

NMS declines to comment on the details of the design team appointment at this stage, although an announcement is expected within a week.

The £44.5m development of the national museum in Edinburgh will see the creation of 16 new galleries; the space available for exhibits will double. Project director of the Royal Museum Masterplan Jem Fraser says the design tender specifically invited applications from either single design consultancies or consortia as a means to gather ideas on the best approach for the redevelopment. It is not clear whether additional groups have been selected to work with RAA on the scheme.

‘We asked the designers to give us an idea of how they would treat one or two of the spaces. We [needed to know] how they would work within our historical space, how they would work with architects and how they could handle such a big project,’ Fraser explains.

The Royal Museum houses exhibits spanning a wide range of subject areas, taking in both Scottish and world cultures in the fields of decorative arts, science and industry, archaeology and the natural world.

The regeneration of its Victorian building will also triple the space available for learning facilities, including the redevelopment of its learning centre. The work will begin in 2007, with a public opening scheduled for the end of 2011.

A multidisciplinary design team will be led by Gareth Hoskins Architects, which was appointed to oversee the Masterplan following a competitive tender at the beginning of November. The architect was also responsible for the Royal Museum’s original masterplan blueprint.

Funding of £16.8m was granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund in July (DW 28 July). £1m of this has already been released as a development budget, ahead of the Stage Two application that will be made by NMS in July 2006.

This application is currently being put together by GHA and the balance of funding will be released in January 2007, if the application is successful.

ROYAL MUSEUM MASTERPLAN

• £44.5m budget (after accounting for inflation), with £21.6m for buildings, of which £7m is allocated to design

• New exhibitions showcasing the natural world and world cultures

• Discovery Zones for the natural world and art and design

• 7000m2 of additional displays

• Balcony café and information centre

• Improved interpretation, orientation and social spaces, including eating and shopping

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