British Museum reveals details of 10-year transformation plan

The initiative will see the museum introduce a new gallery, refurbish two of its existing gallery spaces and bring back its disused Reading Room.

The British Museum has announced it will undergo a 10-year revamp, which will see several new and refurbished galleries open to house its permanent collection, alongside the return of its Reading Room.

The London-based museum – which welcomed 6.2 million visitors to see its permanent collection last year – will look to focus on telling “more coherent and compelling stories” about the cultures and artefacts it showcases, says museum director Hartwig Fisher.

The Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic World will open to the public in autumn 2018, showcasing the growth of Islam since its advent right up to the present day. It will comprise two gallery spaces; the first looking at the beginning of Islam up until roughly 1500 AD, and the other featuring objects from under the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals.

The Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia will reopen in November 2017, complete with new lighting and interior design. It will look to bring the histories of China and South Asia up-to-date.

Reading Room

After closing to the public in January 2018, the Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries will undergo a refurb and reopen later that year in the autumn. The redesign will allow for regular gallery rotations and the display of rare and light-sensitive works from the collection, including prints by artists such as Katsushika Hokusai.

The disused Reading Room will also be put back “at the heart” of the museum as part of its10-year plan, says Fisher.

“We want a walk around our permanent collection to be a voyage of discovery and learning for all,” he says. “This will involve a new narrative for the collections, an emphasis on the interconnectedness of cultures, the renovation of the building and improvement of facilities for our millions of visitors, and – of course – digital.”

The British Museum was unable to confirm at the time of publishing whether any design consultancies or architects have been named to work on the revamp of its galleries and Reading Room.

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