“I seem to go on about the Grant Museum but I love it. It being in my home town, I can easily visit, plus it’s free! So selfishly, I can imagine a ‘Wellcome-style’ extension here, a modern, conversational, finger on the pulse, provocative side kick. ‘Old’ Grant would be illuminated by it’s cool friend enhancing its warmth, wisdom and experience. Building ’New Grant’ would have the added value of preserving The Grant Museum’s quirky eccentricity forever.”
“It’s probably true that the vast majority of museums are holding a massive archive of stock that they just can’t show. The collections on show are the sharp end of a much larger collection.
I have a favourite, under-exploited space I can think of. The beautiful and generous grounds of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow comes to mind, an ideal location to celebrate the rich art and design heritage of Scotland. A contemporary insertion complimenting, not competing, with the grand statement that is the Spanish Baroque original. At various times there I’ve seen really good temporary exhibits, the Glasgow Boys, C.R.Mackintosh or new Scottish Painters, but they are just that – temporary, and could and should be permanent.
I would excavate, not unlike the Louvre or the Apple Store on 5th Ave NY. Dig down to create a top lit basement that surrounds the main building but also responds to the rolling wooded parkland to the rear elevation. It could be invisible and irresistible at the same time.
Of course we would want to take the commission for the Museum retail and hospitality space, a challenge that few have mastered and needs to be re-defined. What a brief!”
“It would be the Pitt Rivers museum of anthropology and archaeology in Oxford. It’s a real Victorian museum full of thousands of things. Originally, Pitt Rivers had an idea for a museum that would work in concentric circles – you could start with the first day of creation in the middle then as you move outwards through the series of concentric rings, you see things that subsequent civilisations have manufactured and made.
In the 1960s, Italian architect Pierre Luigi Nervi had a plan to organise it in this way, but it was never realised. Pitt Rivers was a 19th century anthropologist and explorer, and it’s a Victorian museum full of thousands of things. It’s beautifully organised in the current museum but I would love to take on the Pitt Rivers project in a modern way – that’s a museum I like spending my time in.”
“Museum expansion can be great, but it can also put the original charm of a place at risk. Bigger isn’t better when you lose intimacy, and if an institution becomes harder to navigate, the chance for serendipitous encounters – and an intuitive understanding of the original ethos – can get lost.
If I were to extend a museum it would be the Wellcome Collection. With its passion for science and art and exploration of the past and the future, it has a lot to say. I would add a new collection of ephemera from both worlds, a collection of non-physical objects for the future.”