Museum of London is going to have an epic five-month leaving party before its big move to Smithfield

·3-min read
 (© Museum of London)
(© Museum of London)

After 46 years, the Museum of London will be closing the doors of its Barbican site for good – and to celebrate it is going to have a five-month-long epic goodbye.

With a packed roster of events, including tonnes of activities scheduled over the summer, the final months of the museum will then build up to a duo of festivals that will stretch across two long weekends. The museum will then close on December 4.

Speaking to The Guardian, director Sharon Ament said, “We are really gearing up for that last weekend. If there is demand, we will stay open 24 hours – we really want everybody who hasn’t been to the Museum of London to come and see it.”

Describing the possible “epic leaving party”, Ament added: “I can’t wait to move, It’s not fit for purpose as a museum anymore. It has served us well until now, let’s say, but it really is time to move on.”

Over the summer the programme will include historical clay-making workshops for young archaeologists and roman mosaics making, but with lego. In November there will be a different historical theme each week for school visits, plus the museum will host an Open House weekend in September.

Headline displays include Harry Kane: I want to play football and Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream.

The Museum of London boasts more than two million objects in its collections, including Roman mosaics, artefacts from the Great Fire of London and Suffragette memorabilia.

According to the museum, which covers London from the first settlers to the modern-day, it receives over a million visitors to its museums every year (it occupies three sites: Hackney, where the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology – where the skeletons are – and the Archaeological Archive are based; Docklands; and London Wall in the City of London, of which the latter is the biggest).

© Museum of London (© Museum of London)
© Museum of London (© Museum of London)

So fear not, the Museum – whose archaeology branch was established as far back as 1826 – is not going for good. It is simply moving location to a building down the road in Smithfield.

Its relocation was announced in 2015 and a year later an international competition was launched to find the architects to build its new site.

In July 2020 Asif Khan and Stanton Williams were announced as the winners. They are creating the new Museum of London alongside conservation architect Julian Harrap which will open in 2026.

While Ament may be ready to move sites, it means the museum will no longer face the Roman wall which is situated at Barbican.

“Yes, we’ll be saying goodbye to one part of London’s history and hello to another,” said Ament. “Smithfield is a place where martyrs were burned, William Wallace was hanged, drawn and quartered; the big livestock markets were there. St Barts is the first public hospital in the country. It feels like history is all around.”

There is currently an ongoing campaign going to block the development that will replace the Museum of London once the site is demolished.

In May the Barbican Association chair wrote: “As you know, the City has plans to develop London Wall West.

“It has issued preliminary proposals for a massive commercial development and the Barbican Association, together with many of you, have objected. We believe that what has been proposed is entirely inappropriate to an historic site so close to the Barbican neighbourhood. We are asking the City to think again.”

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