A project of great restraint and contemporary delight
Stanton Williams and Purcell for the British Museum
Contract value: Undisclosed
Located in one of the oldest surviving spaces in the grade I listed museum originally designed by Sir Robert Smirke, this new permanent display is sympathetically and creatively handled. The Waddeson Bequest, a mixed bag of Renaissance and Baroque pieces donated to the museum by the Rothschild family in 1898, has been given far greater prominence and a new lease of life. The architects have left the listed structure untouched so that it can be returned to its original state at any time. The first floor gallery with its bookshelves is used for projected images giving context to the main attraction: the elegant rhomboidal glass cabinets in the centre of the room.
These cabinets, designed in the tradition of European Schatzcammers (treasure chambers), make sense of the variety of objects on display through careful curation and lighting. This is a project of great restraint and contemporary delight in a historic context.