£7.2m Being Brunel museum opens in Bristol on Friday

A new museum exploring the life and legacy of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel will open to visitors this Friday in Bristol, UK.

Being Brunel will comprise six galleries and some 150 of Brunel’s personal artefacts. The overall design is set to evoke the atmosphere of the Great Exhibition of 1851 – which was a celebration of Victorian wonder and invention, and featured Brunel on its design committee.

Brunel was an English mechanical and civil engineer in the 1800s. He built dockyards, the Great Western Railway and a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship. He was also responsible for a range of bridges and tunnels.

The £7.2m ($10m) project on Bristol’s harbourside will be located a few metres from the SS Great Britain, which Brunel designed, a ship that revolutionised maritime engineering and world travel.

The new museum incorporates the historic Great Western Steamship Company’s Dock Office, a Grade II listed building where Brunel once worked and that has been restored as part of the project.

Visitors will step into a recreation of the drawing office where Brunel and his team worked on final designs for the SS Great Britain. The office has been reconstructed based on a watercolour painted by his niece and creates a fully immersive encounter with Brunel’s environment – from its sounds and scents through to the colour of the paint based on evidence found in his original office.

Matthew Tanner, chief executive of the SS Great Britain Trust, said: “By preserving Brunel’s legacy in this way, the museum aims to show what the man made, and what made the man, and we aim to inspire the innovators of the future.

“It will also highlight Brunel’s continuing relevance today with insight from ‘modern day Brunels’ including Norman Foster and Roma Agrawal, exploring how Brunel has inspired their work.”