This week Oxford Direct Services began work on the first phase of redeveloping the Museum of Oxford, removing a dividing wall and stripping out set dressing that currently covers the original walls and windows.
The redevelopment project
The £3.2m project will create an award-winning museum and heritage events space in the centre of Oxford, with funding coming from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the City Council and the Museum’s own development trust.
Work on phase one will strip back the space to make way for the development work, and aims to complete in the autumn this year. It will remove the 1970s intrusive building work and enable the restoration of the Victorian grandeur of the Grade II* listed Town Hall.
Phase two will create new, accessible galleries, learning spaces and a welcome area and gift shop. It is projected to complete by autumn 2020.
The new museum space
The redevelopment will create two larger galleries, a learning space and Museum Makers community space in the basement, and will restore the original windows and wall dressing.
The new spaces will increase the size of the museum and the number of objects on display from 286 to around 750, and will create the opportunity for fun family activities amongst open storage of objects.
The museu, run by the City Council, tells the often-overlooked story of Oxford, its people and its communities through exhibits, objects and new oral histories. The redevelopment will transform the Museum, offering improved exhibition spaces, learning opportunities and experiences.
The project will also see the creation of a new shop and reception desk, forming a much improved welcome area for the Museum and improved facilities for the museum’s 100+ volunteers. The museum has been partially closed since 2011, and the Town Hall currently hosts the temporary Micro-Museum in the gallery.
“We are delighted to have been appointed as principal contractor on this key project to work on a Grade II* listed building, our highly skilled teams are looking forward to the extra challenge this presents.
“Once again we have partnered with Blackbird Leys social enterprise RAW, who will use their specialist skills in reclaiming and recycling wood for the project to ensure maximum social value and environmental benefit to the community.”
Ian Batchelor ACIOB, Director of Construction and Building Services at ODS
“This redevelopment will see the Museum transformed to be a fitting space for the story of this world famous city and its people.
“It’s exciting to see the work beginning on the building phase, after a huge amount of work to secure funding, public consultation on the project, and establishing the charitable trust that oversees the development.
“The new museum will be able to offer better services to the local community, including improved schools workshops, community projects, family activities and events, to create a museum that puts the people of Oxford at the heart of all it does.”
Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Centre