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Thomas Queen, Solicitors and Estate Agents
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Dunfermline Museum & Art Gallery

By - Wed, 3rd Apr 2013

In 2007 Fife Council, together with the RIAS arranged an architectural competition for a new Museum & Art Gallery alongside the World’s first Carnegie Library in the historic centre of Dunfermline.
Richard Murphy Architects were successful competition and were appointed as the designers. The project at that stage followed the client’s brief placing a restaurant on the roof and was organised around an internal street which gave equal access to the museum, gallery and also the adjacent library.

At that time the site ownership did not extend to the adjacent car-park and so the problem of a effectively land-locked site was solved by an innovatory proposal to hinge a large section of the front elevation of the Grade B listed Bank which sits alongside the library.

After numerous consultations, Fife Council purchased from the adjacent Abbot’s House Trustees the car park with the intention that this be converted into a garden which will sit in the centre of various historic and cultural attractions namely the new museum and library, Abbot’s House and its own garden, and of course, the famous Abbey and its graveyard. This move allowed them to make a different entrance into the design.

The revised design maintains a top-lit street as its organising device and has a secondary entrance at the southern end for direct access to the graveyard and St Margaret’s Street. There are three main new spaces. At the lower level is a major new facility for the research and study of local history and its archive and also new library facilities for children.

The café has been relocated to a first floor position with terraces looking out onto the Abbey and graveyard and above this on the same level will be the museum and the exhibition galleries. The circulation system is an ‘architectural promenade’ culminating in these facilities but also continuing back into the main building and allowing access to two main existing spaces in the library, the Murrison Burns Room which becomes a meeting / function space and the adjacent reference library which will become an activity and lecture space.

Externally, the materials are a combination of stone and corten steel. The latter is to designate the fact that a majority of the museum display will deal with the industrial heritage of the town, namely nineteenth and twentieth century history. A major feature of the museum itself, which is being designed in collaboration with Redman Design, is that there should be a variety of internal framed views of significant nearby historic buildings.

The project is expected to be on site by 2014 and completed by 2016.

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