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Have your say on the future of International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum

Two museums with powerful collections and stories of local, national and international significance are inviting local people and visitors to have a say in shaping their future.

National Museums Liverpool is sharing the plans for the redevelopment of both the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum, inviting everyone to not only explore the designs but also speak to architects and the project team and gain an understanding of the ambition for both museums.

Teams from National Museums Liverpool will be taking the plans out into various community spaces as well as holding a drop-in public planning consultation day at Museum of Liverpool on 4 April 2024 from 12 noon – 4.30pm.

There will also be an opportunity to meet members of the team in an online event on 4 April, from 6-7pm:

Michelle Charters, Head of International Slavery Museum said:

We’re so grateful for the thoughtful, collaborative work of our community stakeholders who have been integral in getting the designs to this stage and we’re delighted to be now sharing them with the wider public. The proposals for International Slavery Museum represent a major new chapter for the museum, and the city in addressing its role within the transatlantic slave trade. We believe the new designs elevate the museum’s presence within its historic location on the Liverpool waterfront and will allow the collections and narratives of transatlantic slavery to resonate with an even wider audience – now it’s over to the people of Liverpool to tell us what they think.

Ian Murphy, Head of Maritime Museum said:

The Maritime Museum opened more than 40 years ago as part of the Albert Dock’s redevelopment in the 1980s. As the first of National Museums Liverpool’s three waterfront venues, we have welcomed millions of visitors and shared the extraordinary stories of Liverpool’s rich maritime heritage with people from around the world. We’re looking forward to sharing these impactful new designs, that signify an exciting future for the museum, with fresh energy and opportunities. We hope people will take time to look at the designs, ask questions, share their views, and ultimately become part of this journey.

The transformed International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum will centre around people – past, present and future, local, national and international – to create dynamic, welcoming spaces that meaningfully address contemporary issues.

Those whose lives have been most affected by the histories being told are playing a fundamental role in the development of both museums.

Historic England is the government’s adviser on the historic environment. Marie Smallwood, Historic England’s Head of Advice North, said:

It’s really important that the emerging plans for this site are sensitive to its setting within Liverpool’s historic docks and we’re being consulted by National Museums Liverpool as their approach develops. It is encouraging that the proposal is going out to public consultation to help shape the future of this part of Liverpool’s amazing maritime heritage.

International Slavery Museum: designs will reveal how the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building (MLK) will become a prominent new entrance to the International Slavery Museum (ISM), creating an inspiring welcome and a stronger sense of identity for the museum. They will also illustrate plans for the internal look and feel of the building, which will become a space for learning and community. Designs for a striking glass bridge will show how new re-imagined ISM galleries in the Hartley Pavilion will connect to the MLK and offer spectacular views both into and out of the Royal Albert Dock.

Maritime Museum: designs will demonstrate how an improved visitor welcome and orientation space will enable visitors to appreciate the historic fabric and scale of the building on arrival. They will also reveal ideas for better circulation for visitors and enhanced commercial facilities, including a shop, café and events spaces.

In January 2024, National Museums Liverpool announced the appointment of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios) as the new team leading the architectural design of the £58m major redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum.

The world-renowned design firm are developing the proposals for the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building and the Hartley Pavilion, sites of both museums, working with key members of the University of Liverpool School of Architecture in facilitating community conversations to inform the designs.

Ralph Appelbaum Associates, who were appointed in 2022, lead on the exhibition design for both museums.

Both venues are expected to close in spring 2025 for works to begin, reopening in 2028.

This project is made possible with £9.9million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with thanks National Lottery Players.

In March 2024 it was also announced the project would receive £10million from The Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.