Simpson & Brown Architects with Addyman Archaeology

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Thackray Museum of Medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine

The Thackray Museum of Medicine  in Leeds is a museum of the history of healthcare. The building first opened in 1861 as the purpose-built Leeds Union Workhouse, it went onto become a part of the hospital until the NHS vacated the building in 1990. In 1998 the museum was opened within the former workhouse. The museum was founded by the Thackray Medical Research Trust who had established the original collection of medical artefacts from an extensive family archive.

In 2015 Simpson & Brown were appointed to develop proposals to improve the existing museum as part of a successful Heritage Lottery Fund Application. The key challenge was to address the constricted circulation routes throughout the building and create a more open and fluid space. The solution was the addition of a new circulation atrium which unlocked the unused rear wing of the building and created a fully accessible one-way visitor flow around the two floors of the exhibition. The proposals were designed as part of a wider masterplan for the site.  

The new atrium walls rise up to the first-floor exhibition framing an illuminated suspended installation within the new double heigh space. The new tiled atrium walls were carefully colour matched with the existing teal Burmantoft tiles creating a contemporary companion to the adjacent Victorian stairwell. This bright and colourful space leads the visitor up to the start of the exhibition setting scene for the dynamic newly refurbished exhibitions.

The works, including comprehensive fabric repairs, were completed in 2020. The building is currently being used as a major vaccination hub for the city of Leeds and is due to open to the public in 2021.

Project name: Thackray Museum of Medicine
Client name: Thackray Museum of Medicine
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