Museum of Liverpool / 3XN

© Pete Carr

Architects: 3XN
Location: ,
Engineer: Buro Happold
Client: National Museums Liverpool
Project area: 13,000 sqm
Photographs: Pete Carr, Philip Handforth, Richard White

© Pete Carr

The new Museum of Liverpool, opening on July 19th will not only tell the story of its importance as one of the World’s great ports or about its cultural influence, such as with the Beatles phenomenon. It will also serve as a meeting point for History, the People of Liverpool and visitors from around the globe. Therefore, according to the Architect, Kim Herforth Nielsen, the structure functions as much more than just a Building or a Museum.

The Result of a Rigorous Process

As the largest National Museum to be built in the UK in over 100 years, and situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site next to Liverpool’s famous ’Three Graces,’ Principal Architect and Creative Director at 3XN Kim Herforth Nielsen was fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge, when it came to designing the new Museum of Liverpool.

sketch 01

’This is one of the largest and most prestigious projects in 3XN’s 25 year history. The Museum’s design is a result of a very rigorous process, where it was of utmost priority to listen to the city inhabitants, learn the city’s history and understand the potential of the historical site that the Museum now sits upon.’

first level plan

The result is a dynamic low-rise structure which enters into a respectful dialogue with the harbour promenade’s taller historical buildings. This interaction facilitates a modern and lively urban space. The design is reminiscent of the trading ships which at one time dominated the harbour, while the façade’s relief pattern puts forward a new interpretation of the historical architectural detail in the ‘Three Graces.’ The enormous gabled windows open up towards the City and the Harbour, and therefore symbolically draw history into the Museum, while at the same time allow the curious to look in.

© Philip Handforth

A Nexus

The Museum lies along the Mersey River in the center of Liverpool, and will function as a nexus, in that it physically connects the Harbour promenade with the Albert Dock, which today contains restaurants, museums and boutiques. The outdoor areas around the Museum offer seating with views to the water adding to the dynamic urban environment and serving as a meeting point for locals and visitors alike. The theme is carried through into the Museum of Liverpool’s central atrium, with its sculptural sweeping staircase leading up to the galleries further encouraging social interaction. All of these functions result in Kim Herforth Nielsen choosing to describe the Museum as a structure that unites Liverpool.

© Philip Handforth

’This Museum connects the city together on many levels – physically, socially and architecturally. The idea of creating a Museum as a nexus in both physical and symbolic expression has been central from the start. I am very satisfied to see that this ideal is carried out to the full in the completed structure.’

A striking new addition to Liverpool

Dr David Fleming OBE, Director of National Museums Liverpool, is thrilled with 3XN’s design and looks forward to welcoming visitors to the museum:

© Richard White

‘To design the building we appointed Danish architects 3XN, who responded to our requirement (…) The resulting structure is a striking addition to the Liverpool cityscape. I can’t wait to open the doors to visitors to show off our new museum and encourage others to discover more about this extraordinary city.’

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Museum of Liverpool / 3XN" 18 Jul 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • eddie

    reminds me of Zaha’s maxxi museum..

  • Bonza

    its as if they’ve cut off a tiny portion of the maxxi and transplanted it in liverpool… what’s going on here?

  • Cristina

    what a rip off…

  • up_today_arch

    please, watch Porsche museum in Stuttgart, this building has been first…

  • Claus

    Reminds me of Arche Nebra, by Holzer Kobler … just larger

  • Matthew Schexnyder

    This project has been on-going since 2004 (as a winning competition entry). It is not as if 3XN saw Zaha’s MAXXI a year ago and then decided to replicate it. It’s disappointing that some of you see a “rip off.” What you are really looking at is a contemporary language that is not unique to Zaha, 3XN, nor Meissl.

  • ksad

    I don’t think this is a ripoff at all but something about the aesthetics bugs me. It’s definitely not “the result of a rigorous process” and the whole fact that this is played up makes me wonder if there was some insecurity on that front. The punch windows are awkwardly thick and the section is actually completely boring, both symptoms of an arbitrary form not fully taken advantage of.