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Adjaye Associates and Ralph Appelbaum Associates win major redevelopment of International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum

A landmark scheme of museum co-production in Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool is pleased to announce Adjaye Associates and Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) as the preferred bidders to lead the design of a £57m major redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum.

The two world renowned design firms will lead on realising National Museums Liverpool’s vision with Adjaye Associates to lead the architectural design and Ralph Appelbaum Associates to lead the exhibition design, both informed by a brief with co-production at its foundation.

National Museums Liverpool partnered with its RESPECT Group for the selection and appointment. As the project progresses, those whose lives have been most affected by the legacies of historic or modern slavery will play an integral role in the development of both museums.

Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool, said:

“To be bringing two such visionary designers with international reputations to the project represents the bold ambition and thinking behind it. We are delighted they’re keen to embrace this as a co-production project which we feel will create something truly ground-breaking.

“There has never been a more important time to address the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and the redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum symbolises our, and our region’s commitment to confronting the significant role the city played in British imperialism.

“Alongside the revitalisation of the Maritime Museum, which will bring a renewed focus on Liverpool’s rich maritime history and communities, and the wider Canning Dock development, the project will, create a holistic exploration of the heritage of the Liverpool waterfront, as well as a world-class visitor experience.”

The redevelopment will see the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building become a prominent new entrance to the International Slavery Museum, creating not only improved visitor orientation and an inspiring welcome, but also a stronger sense of purpose and identity for the museum. The Hartley Pavilion will also benefit from improved circulation for visitors with enhanced commercial facilities, including retail, cafeteria, events spaces and a dynamic temporary exhibition space.

The national collections of both the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum will be elevated and their stories amplified by this major redevelopment. From epic tales of Titanic, emigration and two world wars at the Maritime Museum, to transatlantic slavery, its ongoing legacies and the world’s first modern slavery collection at the International Slavery Museum, these narratives will have new prominence and demand to be heard.

Sir David Adjaye OBE said:

“I am deeply humbled to lead the renovation of the National Museums Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum. This project presents us with an opportunity to reimagine the historic fabric of this Grade 1 Listed Building and to reposition it within the powerful context of Liverpool’s Waterfront and its relationship to the transatlantic slave trade.”

Phillip Tefft, Director of RAA’s London studio, said:

“RAA is honoured and delighted to be appointed for this critical and timely project, which is among the most significant we have ever undertaken. We eagerly anticipate collaborating with National Museums Liverpool, the wider project team and the local community in an inclusive co-production process that places the descendants of people impacted by Liverpool’s maritime history at the heart of the conversation and emerging museum experience. Together, we will honour Liverpool’s Waterfront as a sacred ground – a place that reverberates with the sights, sounds and souls of all those connected to its global history.”

This project is made possible with generous support of £9.9million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund with thanks to National Lottery players. David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Empowering a wider range of people to engage with heritage is a key priority for The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which is why we are so proud to support this transformational project. We’re very excited to see the progress National Museums Liverpool are making on this project that will allow people to engage with and challenge the legacies of transatlantic and modern slavery. We ask the projects we fund do their utmost to think inclusively when considering the future of our cultural heritage. It is great news that NML have partnered with the RESPECT Group to make this appointment to ensure all aspects of this project are as inclusive as possible. As the project progresses, we’re eager to see the International Slavery Museum’s growing contribution to a positive social and economic legacy for Liverpool and the UK heritage sector.”

Waterfront Transformation factsheet