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An update on the £70m waterfront transformation by National Museums Liverpool

2 years ago

An update on the £70m waterfront transformation by National Museums Liverpool

Liverpool’s waterfront is soon to see massive changes as National Museums Liverpool [NML] are to begin their 10-year transformation masterplan.

The £70m+ project spans the area between the Royal Albert Dock and Mann Island, and plans to transform the historic waterfront industrial landscape into a stunning leisure and cultural destination, with a powerful heritage narrative.

Seven buildings are included within the scope of the Waterfront Masterplan:  Hartley Pavilion (incorporating Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum), Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building, Museum of Liverpool, Pier Master’s Office, Hartley Hut, Cooperage and Mermaid House. Development of each will be undertaken in a phased approach. 

Laura Pye, director of National Museums Liverpool, said:

“The project is going to allow us to regenerate all the buildings that we currently own, and make a more cohesive visitor experience that links storytelling, heritage, community, and connectivity.

“For example when developing the International Slavery Museum [ISM], it will be transformed from a collection of galleries into a museum with a prominent entrance via Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building [MLK].”

Dr Martin Luther King Building will be the new home to the International Slavery Museum

In addition to developing new galleries and community spaces in MLK, NML will refurbish, reconfigure and reinterpret existing galleries in the Maritime Museum [MM] and create visitor and commercial spaces that more effectively link its interior with exterior spaces. MLK will be connected to Hartley Pavilion via a first-floor pedestrian bridge to provide a continued narrative between ISM and MM. The redevelopment will be informed by a brief with co-production at its foundation.

Laura said: “We know the stories of the Transatlantic Slave Trade are not sold in the buildings themselves, the land itself is an integral part of the story. The development will make sure that the history aspect is better cared for. 

“Our job is to safeguard this heritage, we want to ensure that the story is being told directly from our community or those with a direct link to it, Liverpool is what it is because of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its Maritime history.”

Slavery Remembrance Day

International Slavery Museum

Museum of Liverpool is now 11-years-old and the ground floor and first floor will be reconfigured to improve the visitor experience, including creating a new temporary exhibition space, a larger cafe and flexible commercial areas.

Canning Dock will be used to expand how NML use the space opposite the museums, transforming the public realm and improving access to this significant space to continue the telling of Liverpool’s history, including slavery and maritime history, while conserving the fabric of the site for the next generation. A new bridge will connect the Canning Dock quaysides to the area adjacent to the Maritime Museum.

Caning Dock
Images by Gareth Jones

Laura added: “We have done community projects before and we are great at working with our community, but this is going a step beyond that, as people now have their own voice and are able to help shape how our waterfront will eventually be.”

With the Waterfront Transformation Project being co-produced with the community, there’s opportunities for everyone to get involved as NML will be holding sessions to hear your voice on how the waterfront should look after the project is completed.

Keep an eye out for other upcoming community engagement opportunities here. 

If you would like to hear about ways to be involved, you can email:

All updates on the progress of the project are uploaded to the NML website here.

By Chris Grundy


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