New staircase and lift improve access at museum

Published on 06 July 2017

WORKS to transform the entrance to Leicester’s New Walk Museum have been completed, with a brand new lift and a stunning spiral staircase ready to take visitors to the first floor galleries from Saturday (8 July).

Skylights and upper floor windows have also been restored, allowing natural light to flood in to the revamped entrance, and a brand new reception area has been created too.

The refurbished entrance area will re-open to the public this weekend to coincide with the opening of the museum’s major summer exhibition, Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour 1875-6.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This scheme has given our flagship museum the bright and airy grand entrance it deserves, with the new lift making it much easier for people in wheelchairs – or with pushchairs – to access the first floor galleries.

“The striking new staircase is a feature in its own right, and I’m delighted that it’s been completed in time for the opening of our major new exhibition this weekend.”

Designed by Leicester-based architects Maber, the new staircase has been inspired by the ammonites in the museum’s geological collections. 

Tim Boxford, Associate at Maber, said: “We have truly relished the chance to work on this intricate project.

“What on the face of it seemed like a simple brief – to improve access and legibility between the ground and first floors – proved to be a tricky puzzle. 

“We had to find a way of fitting a staircase and lift into the existing fabric, whilst improving headroom on the stairs and allowing as much light as possible into the space.  

“The inspiration for our solution – a helical stair set-out around three centres of rotation – came from looking at the ammonite fossils in the museum. After a good deal of collaboration, and no small effort on the part of the contractor and stair fabricators, we have a new entrance to the museum that finally does justice to the wonderful exhibits it displays."

Work to install the new lift and staircase took six months to complete, with the whole scheme costing £700,000.

Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour 1875-6 opens on Saturday 8 July and continues until Sunday 29 October. Admission to the exhibition is free of charge.