Historic former TV building could lead major revamp of city's museums

The Martin Luther King Jnr Building
-Credit: (Image: Patrick Graham/Liverpool ECHO)

New details have been released about plans for a major overhaul of Liverpool’s cultural institutions on the Albert Dock.

As part of its waterfront transformation project, National Museums Liverpool (NML) has set out a master plan of how it intends to reimagine the offering from the International Slavery Museum and revitalise the Maritime Museum. Now a planning application submitted to Liverpool Council has outlined how NML wants to breathe new life into the Martin Luther King Jnr building.

Formerly home to Granada Television, NML said the overhaul of the site was needed to become “more sustainable and meet the needs of the museum’s audiences.”

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According to a design and access statement submitted as part of application by NML the regeneration of the building is an “important and essential part of National Museums Liverpool’s Waterfront Transformation Project, which sets an ambitious vision for Liverpool Waterfront.” As part of this, the frontage will become a dedicated entrance to the International Slavery Museum, with multi-functional cultural spaces including the new National Centre for Teaching Black History and continuing the partnership with the Centre for Study of International Slavery.

The statement added: “The building hasn’t received any significant investment since the museum was created, so there is a definite need to refresh as well as becoming more sustainable and meeting the needs of the museum’s audiences.” It was said challenges within the building are “founded in the need for substantial change in bringing the building into a new, prominent and public use.”

These include an “imposing, neoclassical entrance that expresses narratives of power and dominion, resonant with the site’s history in mercantile wealth and the transatlantic slave trade during a period of empire and colonialism. This must be addressed to reconfigure the building’s relationship with its new international role and the people who will use it as a place of remembrance, renewal and innovation.”

NML said it would seek to use the building, formerly home to Granada Television in the 1980s before being bought by the museum group in 2008, as “a public and cultural venue, and as a resource for local people and communities, necessitates transformational change in its relationship with the public realm and with the city of Liverpool.” It added: “This demands the creation of a bold new entrance, worthy of the global agenda and position to which the museum aspires.

“The new entrance pavilion will extend the experience of the ISM out into the public realm, welcoming visitors into the museum and preparing them for their journey through its galleries.”

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