Paisley Museum is to undergo a £42m revamp

Capital investment in Scotland gathers pace

Simon Stephens, Issue 119/10, 01.10.2019
Paisley and Perth to benefit from revamps of historic buildings, with Aberdeen Art Gallery to reopen next month
Money may be tight for the day-to-day running of many museums in Scotland, but the sector is still continuing to invest heavily in high-profile capital projects to overhaul tired historic buildings.

Renfrewshire Leisure has released the first images of a £42m project to redevelop Paisley Museum, which opened in 1871. The aims of the project, which has a completion date of 2022, include reinvigorating Paisley town centre and quadrupling annual visitor numbers to the museum to 125,000.
The collections, which include the world’s largest collection of Paisley shawls and pattern books, medieval manuscripts, studio ceramics and artwork by the Glasgow Boys, will also be redisplayed.  

“The Paisley Museum brief is one of the most radical I’ve encountered,” says Amanda Levete, the principal of AL_A, which is the architect for the scheme. “Paisley has a proud industrial past and a history of innovation and radical thinking. We have embedded this into our design to create an extraordinary place for the community of Paisley.”

Transforming Perth

Perth hopes to transform its cultural offer through three capital projects: Perth City Hall, Perth Museum and Art Gallery, and the creation of a collections store. 

The City Hall museum development is the furthest advanced. Culture Perth & Kinross, the charitable trust that operates museums, galleries, libraries, archives and arts services, is working with its partner Perth & Kinross Council, architect Mecanoo and designer Metaphor on the £20m scheme, which should be finished by 2021.

Gillian Findlay, the head of museums and collections for Culture Perth & Kinross, says the project is a “once-in-a-generation development opportunity for the city”. 

The aims include creating a museum that attracts about 160,000 visitors a year, deepening and widening engagement with local communities, delivering high-quality temporary and touring exhibitions, and being central to the wider tourism strategy for the Tay Cities Region. 

Reopening in Aberdeen 

Aberdeen Art Gallery, meanwhile, is to reopen on 2 November following a £30m redevelopment. The gallery was founded in 1885 and its permanent collections will be displayed across 18 galleries – seven more than previously. 

The project has modernised and restored the Grade A-listed building, improving access and wayfinding for visitors. The complexity of the redevelopment resulted in the gallery’s reopening date being put back from 2017.

In Edinburgh, Surgeons’ Hall Museums has revealed plans to create two galleries that will open in autumn 2020. The new spaces are the second phase of the museum redevelopment, following the completion of the £4.4m first phase in 2015.