Museums in Transformation: Geffrye, Burrell & Beamish

Jessica Juckes, International Training Programme Assistant

Three of the museums that ITP fellows may have visited or made contact with during their time on the summer programme are currently undergoing major transformation. What changes are being made? How are the museums engaging their public while physically inaccessible? Let’s take a look behind the closed (or open) doors!

The Geffrye Museum

London’s Museum of the Home, which fellows will have visited on Museum Project Day/Weekend, is closed for a two-year development, reopening in early 2020. The museum closed to the public on 7 January this year.

New Entrance Geffrye Street

The Unlocking the Geffrye project will:
-Open up 50% more space and two floors previously unseen by visitors (increasing accessible space from 30% to 70% of the museum’s buildings)
-Create a new Home Gallery, Library, Cafe, Learning Pavilion and events Studio
-Offer a new entrance directly opposite Hoxton Overground Station with a new reception and improved facilities

Cross Section of the Museum Building in the New Development
To continue engaging with the public, the Geffrye Museum:
-Held a ‘Farewell Party’ as a goodbye to Christmas and to the Museum, with family activities and information on the development project
-Is keeping its front gardens open throughout the two years, running a programme of events and activities
-Is opening its restored almshouse for tours on certain dates throughout the year

The Burrell Collection

Glasgow Museums’ The Burrell Collection, visited by many fellows on their UK Partner Placement, shut for a four-year refurbishment project in October 2016, and will reopen in 2020.

Burrell 1

The Burrell Renaisssance project will:
-Provide the building with a much-needed new roof
-Make the museum more energy efficient through high-performance glazing
-Create two new floors of exhibition space, to increase the display of the collection from 20% to 90%
-Open up the museum’s stores to visitors
-Improve facilities including a cafe, retail opportunities and landscaped terraces linking the museum to its parkland setting

Burrell 2

To continue engaging with the public, the Burrell Collection:
-Is partnering with Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum to offer a series of exhibitions, Burrell at Kelvingrove, showcasing its collection for a Glasgow local and visiting public
-Is continuing to partner with institutions in the UK and abroad to loan items from its collection, including the exhibition Drawing in Colour: Degas from the Burrell at the National Gallery, London.

Beamish: The Living Museum of the North

In 2016, we were lucky to welcome Michelle Kindleysides, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator at Beamish, to the British Museum to deliver a session to ITP summer programme fellows. Work began in October 2017 on Beamish’s expansion, with the project set to reach completion in 2021.

Beamish Groundbreaking

The Remaking Beamish project will:
-Add a 1950s town to the open-air museum, so that the museum once again includes a period within living memory
-Build on the Georgian part of the museum, with Georgian cottages, a windmill and coaching inn
-Bring 30 new buildings to the site: both replicas of structures from across the region and buildings moved piece-by-piece and recreated at the museum, such as the 1950s Grand Electric Cinema!
-Create 95 permanent jobs and 50 apprenticeships, as well as attracting new visitors


As a large-scale, open-air museum, Beamish is staying open through the entirety of the project! Some of the new buildings will be open for the public to visit during 2018.