The British Museum has unveiled plans to reorganise its collection, open new galleries and bring back the Reading Room as part of a major phased revamp.
The transformation is expected to be implemented over the next 10 years and beyond.
The Guardian reports that the museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, announced that the revamp with the publication of the annual review. Fischer who was joined the British Museum in 2016, said that the plans will take Britain’s leading visitor attraction to the next level and allow it to tell ‘more coherent and compelling stories’.
The redisplay of its vast permanent collection will be managed in such a way that the museum will not have to close.
The museum’s iconic round Reading Room is to be a key part of the plan. The Grade 1-listed room lost its original role when the British Library opened in 1997. Now, it will be reborn as a permanent display gallery offering visitors an introduction to the museum.
Fischer also cited several display areas that were in need of an overhaul, among them the Egypt galleries. Currently, visitors can view many iconic objects such as the Rosetta Stone on the museum’s ground floor but then have to go upstairs to see the collection of mummies.
He also pointed out that over a third of the world’s landmass was entirely absent from the displays.
He said the museum needed ‘to continue to play its part in explaining the connectivity of cultures and our shared human identity. Never has this been more urgent than now’.
The renovated China and South Asia room is scheduled to open in November. The Japanese galleries are also in line for refurbishment and new Islamic galleries will open in 2018.
The British Museum is no stranger to transformations. In 2015, the museum began the monumental task of creating a digital record of its entire collection, allowing objects too light sensitive for display to be accessible to scholars and the public for the first time. Home to a staggering 8 million objects, just 1% are on display at any one time.