Hull Maritime volunteer, Julie Corbett visited the Maritime Museum to see first-hand the progress being made on transforming the building.
August saw the Maritime Museum emerging from its scaffolding. The outside of the building has ‘scrubbed up’ well. The contrast between the lead domes and the Ancaster stonework (more information on the masonry work here) is very pleasing.
I was fortunate to have a short tour of the building in September.
Inside every nook and cranny is being worked on. Orientating myself was difficult. Luckily my guide, Robin Diaper (Curator of Maritime & Social History for Hull Museums) knows the future layout perfectly and explained many of the new features of the museum.
When the museum re-opens in 2025 all three floors will have galleries, one dome will be open. A buggy park, Changing Places toilet and education resources will be accessible by lift or stairs in the lower level.
We entered through the main doors from Victoria Square. The foyer was reassuringly familiar.
From here we went past the area which will become the cafeteria and on into the largest ground floor gallery. Eric the polar bear is going to be in this room.
Mentioning Erik, the 100 objects from the reserve collection chosen as their favourites by the People's Choice in 2020 (read more here) are going to be integral to the collections.
One of the corridors from the gallery will have a ‘swimming fish’ installation at floor level. The museum will be organised on each level by themes that run through and unite the 800 years (and counting) of Hull’s maritime history. This includes things previously under-represented, such as the story of labour on the docks, navigation, transmigration, and the ports global connections.
Moving up to the first floor to the Court Room I began to get an idea of how moving between the galleries is going to be a very different experience. There will be new walkways within the central atrium area. Skylights have been inserted in the roof to give natural light. The Court Room windows have more streamlined glazing systems.
As I have mentioned the museum will now have a third floor of galleries. This is the floor with the porthole shaped windows.
The fittings and colours of the galleries are to be sympathetic to the exhibits. The museum has spaces for temporary installations, including national and international collections requiring special environmental conditions. It will be displaying 50 per cent more items from Hull’s own collections.
This building was the Dock Offices for many years. There is now access to one of the domes. The view shows how easy it will have been to watch shipping movements when the town docks were in use. You can even get a view of the Humber.
In the dome is an example of the skill and style of this refurbishment. Not only are the original features of the Victorian building being renovated, but the new additions enhance the space.
My tour ended in the basement level. I had been a little disappointed that all the old wiring and untidy modifications had been (understandably) refurbished out of sight. I was pleased to be able to photograph this one ‘X’ marking the spot.
This building is a treasure worth waiting for.