Capital Investment in the Cultural Sector

Chris Baxter
Museums and galleries around the world are reassessing their values, purposes and priorities. In relation to buildings and infrastructure, maintenance may be reactive instead of proactive. The Imperial War Museum London (IWM) is bucking the trend by investing in renovation and maintenance programs.

Protecting the past: building the future

The arts, cultural and heritage sectors face huge changes in public perception and expectation, and are redefining the way they present themselves. Museums and galleries around the world are reassessing their values, purposes and priorities.

There are many contenders for funding:

  • The collections, exhibits, and gallery space itself

  • Research and education programs

  • Visitor facilities, including hospitality and retail

  • Websites - offering an alternative interactive experience of the museum environment

Tough financial decisions therefore have to be made. Grant aid or income is often not sufficient for investment in buildings and infrastructure, and maintenance may be reactive instead of proactive. Increasingly, museums and galleries need to raise additional funds, but in the current economic climate, the focus may be on patching up the building while waiting for more extensive repairs to be funded. Also, capital works projects typically have multiple stakeholders with competing interests and specialties, adding an extra layer of complexity to any investment project.

The fabric of historic buildings is often culturally and historically significant. This must be carefully assessed and sensitive conservation and maintenance planned accordingly. Many museums have not made this a priority and indeed may not be fully aware of the historical importance of their buildings.

The Imperial War Museum London (IWM) is investing in renovation and maintenance programs. Under a framework agreement Faithful+Gould is managing this complex restoration project. The IWM is a leading London visitor attraction. The iconic building is Grade II listed, requiring sensitive conservation, repair and restoration.  The project involves close liaison with the listed building officer to agree construction methods and materials.

Challenges:

  • Keeping the museum open during construction works

  • Programming issues, e.g. scheduled VIP visits, special events and exhibitions

  • Staff temporary relocation schedule

  • Access planning (located in nine acres of parkland)

  • Protection for grassed areas and trees during construction works.

Faithful+Gould has wide-ranging experience in the arts and heritage sector, our U.S portfolio includes:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

  • The Getty Center, Los Angeles

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  • Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, Little Rock, AK

  • U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, Washington, D.C.

  • American Museum of Natural History, New York

  • Austrian Cultural Forum, New York

  • The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and performing arts center, Ground Zero, New York

 Around the world, our experience includes:

  • The British Museum, London

  • The Imperial War Museum, London

  • The Museum of Tolerance, Jerusalem,

  • The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), Athens

  • The Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi

  • The Sheikh Zayed National Museum, Abu Dhabi

  • The Louvre