News: 13 March 2019British Museum’s significant research collection to move from London...

Construction is to begin in just a few months’ time on a brand-new facility near Reading that will house some of the world-famous collections from the British Museum.

In partnership with the University of Reading and following the granting of planning permission by Wokingham Borough Council, the British Museum Archaeological Research Collection (BM_ARC) will house ancient sculptures, mosaics, archaeological assemblages and historic cast collections, many of which will be moved from the Museum’s current external storage facility in London, which is due to close in 2023.

The 15,000 sqm bespoke-designed single-storey building located adjacent to Thames Valley Science Park will consist of three connected blocks providing custom-designed space to store, study, share and conserve the collection giving university students and academics access to the unique objects housed there and allowing local schools, museums, heritage organisations and the public access to the collection by appointment.

Sensitive to its surroundings with a courtyard providing natural light and views out the natural woodland, the building in Shinfield will also house a new storage and global research facility with study facilities as well as a loans logistics centre. This will allow the Museum to lend objects from the research collection directly to local, national and international venues. 

Our team secured planning permission for the development that will enrich the cultural and academic life and the surrounding area,


Planning Director Nick Paterson-Neild said: “The plans for the British Museum Archaeological Research Collection facility, which will take a significant step towards reality when construction starts in the Spring, are an incredibly exciting opportunity for Wokingham Borough, bringing a national and global institution to the Borough.

“Having secured planning permission for the Thames Valley Science Park previously, the building of the BM_ARC is the next piece in the creation of a hub for knowledge-based research and innovation in Berkshire with easy access to Heathrow, the M4 and the British Museum.”

Tony Wilson, the British Museum’s project director for the BM_ARC project, said: “We are delighted to have reached this important stage of the project, and Barton Willmore have been instrumental in helping us to achieve planning consent for the site. The Museum is excited about the prospect of its new collection storage and research facility being based in Wokingham, and we are very much looking forward to the next stage of the project.”

It is proposed that building will be completed, and objects moved in by March 2023.


Images: John McAslan + Partners

As featured in the Architects' Journal, BD Online and the Wokingham Paper.

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Planning, Education, Leisure, British Museum