A major £9m redevelopment project is dramatically transforming and re-energising the Coventry Transport Museum, which boasts the world’s largest collection of British road transport.
The project will enable the museum to tell the story of the city’s proud motoring heritage in a world-class, innovative new way.
The museum’s collection consists of 300 cycles, 120 motorcycles and 250 cars and commercial vehicles, together with over a million archive and ephemera items and tells the fascinating story behind the development of road transport from the earliest cycles to the fastest cars on Earth.
With thrills, nostalgia and inspiration, the re-designed museum will take visitors on a surprising and emotional journey through 150 years of innovation – and the people who made it happen.
Base build contractors for the redevelopment are J. Tomlinson, working closely with fit-out contractors Realm, architects Marsh : Grochowski and project managers Focus Consultants.
Building works on the scheme include the construction of two large new extensions –
one on the main road frontage and the other at the rear of the building – plus structural and internal alterations, as well as external modifications.
The project includes significantly upgrading 12 of the museum’s 14 current exhibition galleries, the relocation of the shop, the creation of a new entrance/orientation space and new visitor activity areas. It also includes the redevelopment of the museum’s neighbouring Grade I Listed, 12th century old grammar school building, which is being brought back into public use as an exhibition, education and events space.
Key elements of the scheme include significant alterations to the ground floor of the museum, including changing the layout to tell Coventry’s transport story in chronological order in a dynamic new way, and dramatically upgrading displays to include the latest technology.
The upstairs motorcycle and cycle galleries have been demolished, making way for a new ‘Design and Innovation’ exhibition as well as education spaces. In the new-look museum, the cycle and motorcycle collections are displayed alongside the car collections, and there will be a fantastic new ‘Futures’ gallery as the final display, where models of transport of the future will be on show.
Another important element of the project is the creation of the fantastic new Land Speed Record Exhibition, which is now open and displays the Thrust 2 car, in which Richard Noble set a land speed record in 1983, and the vehicle that set the current record, the Thrust SSC. A new attempt to beat the current record is to be made by a vehicle named Bloodhound next year, and it is hoped that this will become another exhibit in the Land Speed Record exhibition.
“These fantastic cars were located in a dark area to the rear of the building, but they are now at the front of the building in a gleaming new space with new graphics. We have also built a new simulator room in which visitors can experience the feeling of travelling at 1000 miles per hour,” said Mike Askey, partner at Marsh : Grochowski.
The area formerly occupied by the Land Speed Record Gallery will host a ‘Working Wonders’ exhibition.
Works to the12th century former grammar school include repairing the extremely decayed stonework throughout the building, and the construction of a new extension to provide modern access and visitor facilities for the space. The museum will open this historic building up for special events from June 2015 onwards.
Mike Askey said: “The Grammar school is a very old building and had been in a sorry state for many years. Now its future has finally been secured by the project and it will be used by the museum for exhibitions, conferences and meetings.
“The main museum was looking a little dated with lots of static displays which had developed organically as more exhibits were acquired over the years. As a result, early and more modern exhibits were mixed together, as were both cars and motorbikes, with no cohesive natural progression through the displays.
“Modern interactive displays, AV displays and graphics were also needed to upgrade the exhibits – and the overall layout of the building needed changing as it did not lend itself to a smooth route through the exhibitions.
“This required the remodelling of circulation routes, including carrying out alterations to staircases and installing new partitions, as well as other modifications to comply with latest fire regulations.
“As an architect it is a dream to work on such an interesting project with these great spaces and is extremely enjoyable,” he added.