The refurbishment of Paisley Museum has won a prestigious international award, recognising the significant role the project is playing in the town and wider region’s cultural regeneration.

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Architects AL_A won the Cultural Regeneration category at the AR Future Projects 2024 awards, organised by The Architectural Review. Paisley Museum was on a shortlist of 13 projects including cultural giants such as the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Shanghai Opera House, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and a new maritime museum in Karamursel, Turkey.

The £45 million refurbishment of Paisley Museum is part of a once-in-a-generation investment by Renfrewshire Council in four key cultural assets in the town. The £100 million investment is a core driver in increasing visits to Paisley, delivering a boost for local businesses and building civic pride in the town’s incredible cultural assets. In the last six months, the town has welcomed the reopening of Paisley Town Hall following a £22 million refurbishment and the unveiling of the new home of Paisley Central Library, with a £7 million makeover of what was previously a vacant retail space on the High Street. Paisley Art Centre is currently being refurbished and will open in early summer, before Paisley Museum reopens in 2025.

AL_A, whose previous work includes the MAAT contemporary museum in Lisbon and the Exhibition Road Quarter at the V&A in London, have led the design process, including a new extension on the original 1871 museum.

 Matt Wilkinson from AL_A, said: “This project is deeply connected with the community, our work here re-imagines Paisley Museum as an exceptional place that will create new energy and have a lasting impact on the town. Renfrewshire Council’s radical approach to cultural regeneration will become a beacon for communities across Europe — it has set the bar very high.’

 AL_A’s founder – Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete – has described the Paisley Museum Reimagined project as: “One of the most radical briefs I have read….this is not only about finding the way to best show the museum’s collection, it’s also about showing the world how an ambitious cultural project can have a profound impact on a community and its identity.”

 The museum refurbishment is Scotland’s biggest cultural heritage project and is being shaped by, and for, the people of the town. It will celebrate Paisley’s history and impact on the world. It will also be a community space that’s open and accessible to all.  

The museum team has worked in collaboration with local communities as well as global partners to create a museum that people feel proud of and make their own. Groups have also helped shape the physical design of the building and external spaces and how they link with audiences and the wider town.  

The museum refurbishment is funded by Renfrewshire Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Scottish Government, and Historic Environment Scotland. A charitable fundraising campaign has been supported by a number of trusts, foundations and corporate donors. The project is being led by OneRen, the local charity delivering culture and leisure in Renfrewshire.

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Renfrewshire Council’s culture spokesperson and the Chair of OneRen, said: “We’ve always said we will deliver a world-class museum with community at its heart and to win an international award before we’ve even opened is testament to our ambition for culture-led regeneration of Paisley.

“I want to thank AL_A and indeed all of the project team who are working so hard to bring new life to our town’s museum.”

OneRen’s Project Director, Kirsty Devine, said: “We’re building a museum that is engaged with its communities in a way that will continue long after we re-open our doors. This award recognises the impact that the project will have in revitalising the local area through investment in our cultural treasures. We can’t wait to show the world our new museum in 2025.”