Adjaye Associates to redesign the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum

Adjaye Associates and renowned exhibition design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates have been selected to lead a planned approximately $69 million overhaul of the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum at the Royal Albert Dock in the English port city of Liverpool. Both riverside institutions are managed by the National Museums of Liverpool (NML).

The Adjaye and Appelbaum Associates team won the out-of-competition commission, beating three other shortlisted teams consisting of Haworth Tompkins with JA Projects, Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios and heneghen peng architects with DROO Architects. NML officially launched the competition, a competition that sought “radical and courageous” design proposals from collaborative teams, in January this year.

In a statement released by the NML and shared by The architects journal, David Adjaye relayed that he was “humbled” to lead the renovation of museums. “This project gives us the opportunity to reimagine the historic fabric of this Grade I listed building and reposition it within the powerful context of Liverpool’s waterfront and its relationship to the transatlantic slave trade,” he said. declared.

The Grade I listed building in question is the Hartley Pavilion, a historic warehouse that currently houses both museums, with the International Slave Museum located on the third floor of the building. The Maritime Museum first opened in 1984, while the International Slavery Museum opened within its older sister institution on August 23, 2007, to coincide with both the Remembrance Day of slavery and the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade. Although late, Liverpool quickly became the capital of the European slave trade in the late 18th century. As the museum noted, ships in and out of the bustling port of Liverpool transported nearly 1.5 million enslaved Africans across the Atlantic, more than 10% of all known slaves transported by Europeans to the Americas and the Caribbean.

In addition to a complete renovation of the Hartley Pavilion, which will focus on improving exhibit areas, improving circulation and creating new guest amenities, the nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. Building ( also Grade I listed) will be linked to the existing museum. complex building via a pedestrian bridge as part of the renovation. As previously reported by Athe mid-19th century building, formerly known as the Albert Dock Traffic Office, is located directly adjacent to the International Slavery Museum and has been converted into ancillary exhibition space for the museum following its acquisition by the NML in 2008. Prior to its ownership by the NML, the Phillip Hardwick-designed structure, which features a prominent Tuscan portico, housed Granada Television.

The completely revamped building “will be at the very heart of the revitalized International Slavery Museum” with a “dramatic new gateway” that will lead museum visitors “to spaces to explore and investigate the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies,” the organization explained. in a previous statement announcing its biggest Canning Dock project.

The former Albert Dock office in Liverpool, renamed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building in 2021. (Jonathan Oldenbuck/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Creating more gallery space, new much-needed exhibition spaces, and places for people to connect, reflect, and celebrate, the project will lay the groundwork for integrating black heritage into all venue collections. of our national museums in Liverpool,” added the NML of its expansion into the adjacent Martin Luther King, Jr.

A major part of the waterfront transformation scheme, the Canning Dock project focuses on the revitalization of an area of ​​Liverpool’s waterfront (a delisted UNESCO World Heritage Site) that stretches between the Royal Albert Dock and the Isle of Mann which was used in the 18th century to repair and clean ships carrying slaves. As announced by NML in September last year, a multi-disciplinary team comprised of Asif Khan’s eponymous architecture studio in collaboration with Adjaye, Nigerian architect Mariam Kamara and Chicago-based artist and social practice educator Theaster Gates will lead a dramatic, placemaking-focused transformation of the Canning Dock area.

NML Director Laura Pye commented on the selection of Adjaye Associates and Ralph Appelbaum Associates to spearhead the museum’s redesign: “Bringing two visionary, internationally renowned designers to the project represents the ambition and bold thinking that underpins it. -tend. We’re thrilled that they’re keen to embrace this as a co-production project that we believe will create something truly groundbreaking.

“There has never been a more important time to address the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and the redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum symbolizes our commitment and that of our region to address the important role that the city played in British imperialism.”

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

As well as the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum, other museums run by NML include the 3XN-designed Museum of Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery and the World Museum, which is the oldest in the city, open for the first time in 1853.