The new Museum of Bristol, M-Shed, is positioned on the waterfront adjacent to the city’s commercial centre and emerging cultural and leisure facilities. M-Shed completes the regeneration of the city’s historic docks.
Funded by Bristol City Council and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the M Shed takes over the Prince’s Wharf dockfront site, formerly the home of the Bristol Industrial Museum before it closed in 2006. Housed in a refurbished steel-framed cargo shed, the two-story industrial building was originally completed in 1951. Significant consideration has been given to respecting the industrial heritage of the existing building and site without compromising the operation of a modern museum.
The main exhibition areas utilise the dramatic warehouse spaces, integrating the required environmental services and lighting in a sympathetic way. An additional second floor has been added which houses a function space and a temporary gallery. Central to the project has been the creation of two dramatic foyer spaces: the West Foyer and the Main Foyer. These two distinctly different spaces will act as orientation spaces for visitors, as well as break out spaces and additional exhibition spaces. They provide breathtaking views out over Bristol, taking full advantage of the extraordinary location of the museum.
When compared to similar projects in size and aspiration, the budget for this project was extremely tight from the outset, even without the conservation requirements. The project has achieved a good balance between quality and cost and here is hope that the building will make a significant contribution to the city.