Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek Mackay was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the ongoing work to transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination driving new visitors to the town.
The museum is currently undergoing a £42m revamp as the flagship project within wider work to transform Paisley’s future through its internationally-significant cultural and heritage story.
When it reopens in 2022, the museum is expected to almost quadruple previous visitor numbers to 125,000 a year, bringing new footfall into the town centre.
And Mr Mackay and Scottish Government officials were joined by Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson and chief executive Sandra Black to see the work taking place for himself, on a tour led by members of the museum project team.
The museum transformation will create the following:
– a leading European museum telling the stories of how Paisley’s people and pattern helped change the world, drawing audiences from Scotland, the UK and abroad;
– an extension plus complete internal redesign and restoration of all museum buildings – including the Coats Observatory. The design team is headed by international architects AL_A, led by Stirling-Prize-winner Amanda Levete, who have worked on landmark projects across the world;
– doubled capacity for Paisley’s internationally-significant collections to go on show – with local communities helping shape how the collections are reinterpreted and displayed;
– a community resource and major educational institution at the heart of life in Paisley;
– an interactive weaving studio keeping alive Paisley’s traditional textile skills, a heritage centre to study local history, and attractive outdoor museum garden;
Advance works started on the site earlier this year, including the demolition of the 1970s block to the rear of the museum, and work to prepare outdoor spaces and the interior of the existing buildings for main construction starting next year.
Other projects within the current £100m investment in Paisley town centre include a transformation of Paisley Town Hall to turn it into a landmark entertainment venue and keep it at the heart of life in the town for future generations; a new learning and cultural hub housing library services at the heart of the High Street; and a transformation of the town’s key outdoor spaces.
Paisley’s museum collections are still available to view at Paisley: The Secret Collection – the only publicly-accessible museum store on a UK high street.
The museum project is being led by Renfrewshire Council, and the reopened museum will be operated by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay, said: “I enjoyed seeing the ongoing transformation of the museum and all the hard work taking place to develop it for Paisley and the wider area.
“The museum will help tell the story of Paisley and ensure its heritage is preserved.”
Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “I was delighted to welcome the cabinet secretary to the town to show him the life-changing impact this project will have for Paisley, Renfrewshire and Scotland.
“As the one-time centre of the global textile industry, the museum will help reconnect Paisley to the stories – and pattern – which once took its name around the world, and help bring visitors to Scotland from outwith these shores to hear those unique tales for themselves
“It will also be the centrepiece of a transformed town centre, building on the work already done to make the town one of Scotland’s key destinations, and create a thriving community resource for the people of Paisley, driving footfall up our High Street.”
For more information on what’s happening in Paisley, see www.paisley.is