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Brunel Museum Reinvented – Your Questions Answered

We’re excited to be reinventing the Brunel Museum in time for the 200th anniversary of the Thames Tunnel in 2025! 

We know there will be lots of questions along the way. We’ve tried to answer the most commonly answered ones below, but if you have any more questions about the project, please email us on hello@thebrunelmuseum.com or come along to one of our Open Days! 

Table of Contents

What is happening to the trees on the site? 

As well as the two very important buildings, the site is home to a number of mature trees. We have worked very carefully to keep all the mature trees on the site, particularly those highlighted as category B trees or better, including the monkey puzzle tree in the south-east corner. This has been one of the factors that has led us to site the building at the southern side of the site. 

In order to create the new pavilion the two cherry trees at this part of the site will be lost. We have worked with the council tree officers to chose two replacement trees that will be planted next to the new building on site. These blossom trees will be advanced nursery stock when planted, and so that means that they will already be reasonably mature and will be approximately 5m tall when they arrive on site.

 The museum has also agreed to pay for the council to plant 7 new cherry trees of different varieties within the borough to provide some compensation for these two trees being lost. The new trees will provide attractive blossom, as the Cherry trees do now, but with excellent longevity and are of a species well suited to thriving in urban environments. 

Why are you building a new building?

There is a fine balance between improving access to the site and maintaining the integrity of the historic fabric of the buildings. By removing the toilet, shop and office functions from the Engine House, we are able to make better use of this Scheduled Ancient Monument as a key part of the Museum’s exhibit.

Funding from the Lottery will enable vital improvements to the Museum’s internal displays – a significant step change which will enable the Museum to properly tell the rich Brunel story. The new spaces created will give the Museum an exciting and viable future and will allow it to continue to be a key place in the local community.

 

What is happening to the garden on the southside?

The Brunel Museum is host to one of Rotherhithe’s best loved green spaces, and we have considered this very carefully in our plans for the Museum’s future. As such, we have kept the footprint of the new welcome pavilion to an absolute minimum and have very carefully planned the interior spaces to allow this to happen.

A wildflower meadow will be incorporated into the current greenspace in the south-eastern corner of the site which will help to improve the biodiversity of the area from the current grass lawn in this area. The plans propose no changes to the north side of the site, which will remain as a space open to the public and local community that faces the river.

What is happening to the Ship of Blueprints?

As part of the Brunel Museum Reinvented project, the Ship of Blueprints artwork will be relocated to a new home elsewhere in Rotherhithe – a ten-minute walk away where it can still be accessed for free. We are inviting people who were involved in the original construction to take part in a reminiscence project with us and the artist. Please get in touch by emailing hello@thebrunelmuseum.com

What consultation did you do? Will you be doing more?

The Museum conducted consultations with local groups as best it could during the Covid-19 pandemic. During lockdown, this proved particularly challenging, but we persevered as we understand the importance of this work. For the first few months of engagement, all activities took place online and over the phone. We were able to reach many local stakeholders this way, and we also took this opportunity to explore how to make even better use of the Brunel Museum’s social media channels. We ran Twitter polls for the first time, posted more widely on local Facebook groups and used zoom workshops to engage with our volunteers.

We followed this online consultation with face-to-face engagement, running and attending various events in September and October once lockdown had eased. A consultation event at the Museum in September 2020 was attended by over 300 people and this, in particular, shaped the final designs that were submitted for planning.

There will be lots of opportunities in the next 12 months to find out more about the plans, through Open Days or our newsletter. If you have any questions about the project please email hello@thebrunelmuseum.com 

There will also be the opportunity to shape the content of the Museum’s new exhibitions through our Museum on Tour programme. 

 

 

If you have any questions that haven’t been answered above, please email hello@thebrunelmuseum.com with your questions or why not come along to one of our consultation events. 

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