This is the last of three blog posts celebrating the past, present and future of the building Wellcome Collection occupies at 183 Euston Road. If you have visited us over the past seven months you may have noticed that, although we are open as (un)usual, the building doesn’t quite look like itself. Our gorgeous neoclassic building is undergoing a few transformations to accommodate more exhibitions, events and visitors. The full unveiling will be this autumn and, to tide you over, Muriel Bailly talks us through what’s changing.
Our development project is being carried out by Stirling Prize-winning architects Wilkinson Eyre. We are increasing the space available to the public by transforming storage and office areas. Here is the architect’s vision for the building:
The first thing that probably caught your attention is the dramatic spiral staircase (highlighted green in the image above) starting on the ground floor and rising all the way up to level 2, leading directly to a new version of the library’s Reading Room and our new restaurant, Wellcome Kitchen. To those who enjoy our Wellcome Café, don’t worry: the café will be staying too. On level 1, our permanent collections Medicine Now and (the thoroughly missed) Medicine Man will fully reopen. They’ll have a slightly different layout but still contain all your favourite objects. The first floor will also welcome a brand new gallery space opposite Medicine Now, which will be an exhibition space allowing for year-long thematic shows. Our Youth Programme team, who work with local youth groups on some amazing creative responses to our collections, will have their very own studio on the first floor acting as their creative cauldron.
Here’s a sneak peek of what’s happening behind the scenes:
The entire development project will be finished by the end of autumn 2014 but different bits and pieces will reopen as they are completed. Some new spaces have already been finished and can be enjoyed by our visitors. For example, new spaces in the library were revealed to the public recently: a new staircase connecting levels 2 and 3 and a much larger rare materials room.
The Wellcome Collection Development Project is well underway. Here are some milestones to look forward to as work continues over the next few months. Please note that our timescales have to be quite loose in able to prepare for any minor delays that may occur.
- Medicine Man will reopen, likely to be around mid-May
- Exhibition gallery on the ground floor reopening for our Alice Anderson: Memory Movement Memory Object exhibition in May
- Restaurant on level 2 opens
- Youth Studio opening
- new exhibition gallery on level 1 opens
- Reading Room on level 2 opens
The development project is due to be complete at the start of October and everyone will be invited to come and explore all the new spaces.
For now though, just watch this space!
Muriel Bailly is a Visitor Experience Assistant at Wellcome Collection.