MD1513 Museum of London – New Museum Project

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
25 June 2015
Decision by: 
Boris Johnson MP (past staff), Mayor of London

Executive summary

Between September 2014 and February 2015 the Museum worked with a range of consultants, including architects, cost consultants and market researchers, to identify and develop three options for the museum’s future: stay in situ and attempt to improve the London Wall building; develop a new building on the existing site; move to Smithfield General Market. Smithfield was identified as the most viable option and this has been agreed by the Board. GLA and the City also agree that Smithfield offers a sensible way forward, providing this can be underpinned by a robust business plan.


The Mayor approves expenditure of up to £200,000 as grant funding to the Museum of London to implement an architectural competition, create a strategic brief and develop a procurement and management plan in relation to its proposed relocation to Smithfield General Market

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    Between September 2014 and February 2015 the Museum brought together information to make an informed decision about its future. During this ‘feasibility’ stage, the Museum worked with a range of consultants, including architects, cost consultants and market researchers, to identify and develop three options for consideration: stay put and attempt to improve the building; develop a new building on the existing site; move to Smithfield General Market.

Process and consultation-
1.2    The Museum’s Options Appraisal Panel met on the 11th February to evaluate the three options. This evaluation was informed by an appraisal and cost benefit analysis conducted by the Museum’s consultants, Burns Owens Partnership (BOP). This cost benefit analysis complied with the Treasury Green Book guidelines to ensure best value for public funds.

Options Panel Recommendation- 
1.3    The Panel’s unanimous recommendation was that the preferred option was to relocate to Smithfield General Market. On the 11 March, the Board of Governors agreed the Panel’s recommendation and asked the Director to implement the next steps.

Architectural Competition-
1.4    The Museum now needs to run an architectural competition to appoint an architect and other consultants who will develop the design of the new museum to concept stage. A detailed strategic brief articulating space requirements, and a procurement and management plan to manage the new museum project will also be completed in October 2015.

Feasibility Costs-
1.5    The Museum paid for the feasibility stage from its own funds, but now requires £200,000 to implement the work described here.

1.6    This work is vital to ensure the Museum project moves forward as quickly as possible in order to minimize the additional costs associated with an extended programme. It will also generate the material the Museum needs to mount the fundraising campaign that will deliver the project.

The Funding
1.7    The GLA has worked closely with the Museum of London to ensure that this project will deliver value for money, and in accordance with the GLA’s obligations regarding equality of opportunities as set out in 3.1 below.

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The Museum’s visitor figures have doubled in recent years and continue to grow. The move to Smithfield will create more room (an increase of up to 5,000sq ft on the current site), helping the Museum achieve its aim of attracting two million visitors per year. In turn, this will lead to an increase in revenue which will decrease its dependency on public funding.

2.2    The Museum of London will establish appropriate governance and oversight arrangements. GLA will have joint oversight of the project alongside the Museum and the City of London Corporation. e.g. through an Oversight Board. As a condition of funding, the Museum will undertake significant fundraising and will manage the design and planning process including the submission for planning permission.

Equality comments

3.1       Decisions on the planning and management of the new museum will aim to enhance a sense of belonging, for visitors to the museum and for its employees. The architectural plan will assess the access requirements of the new site, particularly with regard to people with disabilities, older people and families with young children, and will address barriers to access. As part of the strategic brief, the Museum will assess the social and ethnic make-up of the communities immediately surrounding the museum, proactively engage with local communities, and involve groups with protected characteristics as part of the design and planning process.

Other considerations

4.1 Risk/mitigation table






Strong governance necessary given likely costs involved




GLA and City will work with Museum to ensure appropriate governance arrangements be established.

Strong project management necessary given project’s costs and complexity




GLA and City will work with Museum on the appointment of a Project Manager.

Project needs to balance affordability with need to build a world class museum for London




Architectural briefs will consider a range of issues – affordability, accessibility, environmental sustainability, as well as world class design.






4.2       This project will help the Mayor to deliver Policy 2.3 of the Cultural Strategy: “Support capital projects that will contribute to the capital’s cultural, social and economic life through planning policies, advocacy and direct investment.”

Financial comments

5.1          For 2015-16, the GLA has budgeted to provide £7.6m in revenue funding to the Museum of
London, which is consistent with budget allocated in previous years.  An additional £200,000 has been allocated from within GLA budget resources, specifically within the Health & Communities Unit to fund this proposal in 2015-16.

5.2    Any changes to this proposal, including budgetary implications will be subject to further approval via the Authority’s decision-making process. All appropriate budget adjustments will be made. 

5.3    The Culture Team within the Communities & Intelligence Directorate will be responsible for managing the GLA’s activities relating to proposal and ensuring that all expenditure complies with the Authority’s Financial Regulations and Contracts & Funding Code.

Investment and Performance Board

7.1    At the Investment & Performance Board meeting on 14 April 2015, IPB gave in-principle approval to the provision of £200,000 by the GLA to enable the Museum of London to develop the design of its new museum to concept stage.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

The Project will be delivered by the Museum of London who will manage the architectural competition and deliver a strategic brief and procurement and management plan by October 2015.

Next Steps



Architectural competition

April – May

Strategic Brief

May 2015

Architect selected

June 2015

Design selected

Aug-Sep 2015

Procurement and Management Plan

October 2015