The Jewish Museum is a museum of British Jewish history, culture and heritage, housing a significant collection of Jewish ceremonial art, archive material, drawings and photography. Originally founded in 1932 in Bloomsbury, it moved in 1995 to its current location in Camden’s Albert Street, in two buildings which are part of a row of Grade II listed Georgian buildings.
The site sits within a compact, urban conservation area with limited scope for extensions. The buildings are of different heights and floor levels, which complicate internal circulation but create spatial drama.
Following earlier improvement works in 2010, BAA were appointed to bring a more coherent approach to the museum’s disparate facilities and to free up valuable floorspace by making use of all circulation areas as pocket galleries. The aim is to extend the visible collection along with its outreach, education and community programmes.
We designed two options, both of which retained the existing building for museum use, with two distinct strategies: one for a light touch refurbishment and one for more extensive work, including potential extensions. In particular, we looked at ways to make creative use of natural light to enhance the overall quality of space, and enhance the street presence of the existing building.
Each applied a simple, rational logic and efficient floor layouts to make the museum more welcoming, dramatic, flexible and forward looking. The preferred option includes a comprehensive strategy of proposed improvements to all floors with new basement, rooftop extension and gallery circulation.