£10M revamp for Exeter’s Royal Albert Museum

Work on a project that looks set to be the catalyst for realising the cultural potential of Exeter’s Castle Quarter begins later this month.

The £10m scheme will see the city’s Royal Albert Museum and Art Gallery redeveloped, refurbished and extended by architect Allies & Morrison, with exhibition interiors designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

The aim of the project, for Exeter City Council, which won an £8.9m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will see 95 per cent of the interiors modified and restored, says Allies & Morrison project architect Richard White.

The work will update the 2000m2 museum and gallery so that it is easier for visitors to access its decorative art, fine art, local and natural history collections.

Ralph Appelbaum Associates will refurbish nine of the existing subject galleries within the main gallery, and will work out how best to present the museum’s historical artefacts to encourage interactivity, as well as inspire family and school audiences, says RAA senior designer Katherine Skellon.

She adds that the consultancy will also develop a graphic system and a way of showcasing large digital displays. One of the key challenges will be to reference the museum’s Devon roots, while highlighting the international value of the first-floor galleries’ collections.

White says, ‘We will be taking out the suspended 1960s ceilings in three of the galleries to reveal the vaulted ceilings which exist above them, as well as designing a new 400m2 extension to the gallery’s entrance’.

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