Liverpool Goes Ultra Modern - Design Bureau

Port of Liverpool building and Museum of Liverpool; photo courtesy Mills Media

Double reflection in the north gable window and north ramp glazing

photo by Mark McNulty

Liverpool Goes Ultra Modern

Monday, September 26th, 2011

by Kristen Eichenmuller
photos courtesy National Museums Liverpool

Liverpool's new £72 million waterfront museum, the aptly named Museum of Liverpool, opened on July 19. In keeping the public's involvement in mind, Dr. David Fleming, director of National Museums Liverpool, invited an enthusiastic six-year-old boy, Finn O'Hare, who wrote a letter in 2010 stating that he is "good at opening things," to help with its grand opening.

Within the first two weeks of its opening, 120,000 people walked through the 8,000 square meters of public spaces filled with more than 6,000 objects that represent the city's history. “Our ambition for the Museum of Liverpool was to create the world’s greatest urban history museum," Fleming says. "For the past 10 years, our team has worked tirelessly, with a great deal of help from the public, to channel this ambition and develop a museum which explains Liverpool using objects to illustrate its story."

Yoko Ono visited the first day to view The Beatles section, which includes the stage where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met in 1957, and a 360-degree immersive film about the band. Other exhibits include Ben Johnson's panorama painting, Liverpool Cityscape, the first Ford Anglia off Ford's Halewood 1963 production line, cycling legend Chris Boardman's famous Lotus Sport bike, and a 1916 Victoria Cross medal awarded to WWI Sergeant David Jones of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment.

While interior exhibitions came to life courtesy BRC Imagination Arts, Haley Sharpe, and Redman Design, National Museums Liverpool carried the museum's concept, and Denmark-based architecture firm 3XN created the creative architecture. “We chose to create a low-rise structure, which enters into a respectful dialogue with the harbor promenade’s taller historical buildings,” says Kim Herforth Nielsen, founder, principal, partner, and artistic director of 3XN.

The Liverpool museum launched 100 years after — to the day — its iconic neighbor, The Royal Liver Building, opened. It was one of the first buildings in the world to use reinforced concrete, and the museum's geometric design adds to the waterfront's innovative architecture and construction. "The Museum’s design follows no distinct style — simply because I believe that it should be the site and the end users that should determine the design of a building, and not some aesthetic rules,” Nielsen says. The building is clad in 5,700 square meters of natural Jura stone, while its 2,100-ton steel structure creates the largest exhibition spaces, 40 meters long by 28 meters wide, to be column free. “We designed the museum like a piece of land art that would provide shelter, view and places to sit and relax for the inhabitants of Liverpool."

Opening in several phases, the museum will continuously add to its popular displays through next year. Future developments for 2012 include space for a learning program and award-winning Hurricane Films' filmic interpretation of Liverpool's global role.

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