If time seems to have stood still over the last year, it certainly has not done so for the project team working hard with architects to refine their concept for the new, refurbished Poole Museum. As well as the main museum, the project has now expanded to include developments to Scaplen’s Court. Early plans have recently been unveiled and the public are invited to have their say. The aims of the plans include maximising the potential of the museum’s historic buildings and collections, improving facilities, increasing visitor numbers and encouraging the public to make longer visits. It is hoped that the developments will create a museum of regional standing. Details are likely to change but this is a brief summary of what is proposed:
Outside space – The area between the Museum and Scaplen’s Court would be opened up into a historic precinct with seating and perhaps a coffee cart. The bench and steps which currently form a barrier would be replaced with a broad ramp.
Ground Floor – The reception would use some of the atrium (with the fire engine removed) to allow more circulation room and a bigger shop area. A glazed screen at the entrance to the main museum would control its environment.
The main ground floor space would be opened up, with all the partitions and walls removed, to house an exhibition on Poole Harbour, its history and wildlife. Part of the display would be tall, using height up to first floor level. Public toilets would be located off the lift / staircase lobby and a new lift installed. A new emergency exit would be provided into Sarum Street.
Wool Hall – The plan is to raise the floor to the same level as the main museum, allowing better access, and to remove the mezzanine gallery and lift. The History Centre would be located elsewhere. The proposed theme is shipwreck, and the gallery would house the major wreck timbers including the logboat which should be viewable from all sides. The Swash Channel Wreck rudder would be displayed to its full height. The idea is to control the environment of the gallery instead of putting all the objects in glass cases. The glass double doors to the Quay would be replaced by a picture window. The hall may accommodate small group events.
The first floor would house an exhibition on international trade and the experience of being at sea. Part of the History Centre would be located in the present temporary gallery and a section of the main floor. There would be a large picture window through to the atrium. A staff area would be provided near the lift.
No major re-display is planned for this level. The hole in the floor would be reopened (smaller than on the first floor) to provide a connection with the other levels and reveal the structure of the building. It is intended to retain the 1950s kitchen. The second part of the History Centre would occupy part of the present temporary gallery, accessible by stairs from the floor below. The rest of the temporary gallery would be occupied by a ‘conservation in action’ area where the public could view backroom museum work in progress.
This floor would display items drawn from the combined the ceramics and art collections and particularly relating to artists working in Poole. The café would be relocated to Scaplen’s Court and the current café space would become an activity area and creative space for families. The terrace could be used for displays of sculpture with the balustrade raised for extra safety. The toilets would be retained on this floor.
The plan is to remove the office desks and furniture and use this level for temporary exhibitions. The space would be entered by a ramp from the lobby and could be divided by movable screens. If the environmental conditions were improved to an international standard, notable exhibitions could be displayed here. There would also be a secure store and room for the plant to control the environment.
Fifth Floor – This would remain largely unchanged apart from some improvement to the sky lights and would be available for education purposes.
Scaplen’s Court -The aim is to upgrade the facilities and improve access so that the building can be better used.
The 1980s bay window would be removed on the ground floor and replaced with doors to provide a more direct entrance to the building. The plan is to relocate the café to Scaplen’s Court, using the two rooms behind the entrance hall which are not currently open to the public. The catering area for the café would be in the present store to the left of the entrance passage if utilities can be laid on. A lift and new staircase in the courtyard would give access to the first floor and accommodate the different levels. A secondary staircase and emergency exit would be provided from the back garden. The building would be open for visitors to walk round and explore. On the first floor, the upper hall would still be used for events. The kitchen at the end of the hall would be removed and a small finishing and serving area provided.
I hope I have represented the plans accurately but they are in the process of evolving and I am sure the details will change. You can click on the plans to make them a bit clearer. If you have comments or suggestions, please take the short survey at: https://wh1.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=161668267073
There is also a brief video to watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsppW66ZhTk&t=109s