Hoare Lea has provided mechanical, electrical and public health (MEP) consultancy services to a £5 million redevelopment of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The project has created six new galleries to display the Museum’s world-renowned collections of Ancient Egypt and Nubia (present day Sudan), including the Shrine of Taharqa (c 680 BC), built at Kawa in Sudan.
Designed by Rick Mather Architects, the 1,016m² redevelopment included the refurbishment of four existing Egyptian galleries within a Grade II listed building, along with the transformation of the Ruskin Gallery, which previously housed the Ashmolean Shop, into a further gallery to accommodate the Predynastic holdings. The project also involved the relocation of the shop into a newly converted space next to the café on the lower ground floor.
New openings link the rooms and the galleries take visitors on a chronological journey covering more than 5000 years of human occupation of the Nile Valley. Collections are presented under the themes of Egypt at its Origins; Dynastic Egypt and Nubia; Life after Death in Ancient Egypt; The Amarna ‘Revolution’; Egypt in the Age of Empires; and Egypt meets Greece and Rome. The project has allowed objects that have been in storage for decades to be exhibited, more than doubling the number of mummies and coffins on display.
Energy efficiency was a key consideration and Hoare Lea worked closely with the team to design creative solutions within the listed building. Design features include: a low velocity ventilation system, which can adapt to visitor occupancy levels while providing a stable thermal and humidity controlled environment for the Egyptian artefacts; a concealed fire alarm system; display lighting control systems; security and access systems; and the integration of the specialist environmentally controlled display cases.
“Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said, "These remarkable collections are among the most important outside Egypt and one of the Ashmolean’s most popular attractions. With an exciting series of new galleries, the redevelopment transforms opportunities for using the collections for teaching and research at all levels, and the way they are enjoyed, cared for and integrated within the wider Museum.”