Paisley Museum

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Cultural Services Update

Paisley Museum update 2020

 Paisley Museum is being transformed into a world-class destination which will retell the town’s story to the world and help bring huge volumes of new visitors and footfall to the town. The work is the flagship project within Renfrewshire Council’s wider investment in venues and the town centre aimed at using Paisley’s unique and internationally-significant cultural and heritage story to transform the area’s future.

The project is being taken forward by Renfrewshire Council and led by a project team based within Renfrewshire Leisure. The buildings are being redesigned by world-renowned architects AL_A – who have worked on landmark projects across the globe, including the V&A museum in London.

The project is being funded by Renfrewshire Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and the Scottish Government.

Work is well under way on a £100m investment in Paisley town centre venues and cultural infrastructure over the next few years. This is being led by Renfrewshire Council and its partners as part of wider plans to change the area’s fortunes using heritage and culture.

The aim is to turn our historic venues into 21st century facilities which can host the new visitors, events and cultural activity the area is attracting. Work on venues operated by Renfrewshire Leisure includes:

  • a £42m transformation of Paisley Museum into a world-class destination showcasing the town’s unique heritage and collections.
  • a £22m revamp to make Paisley Town Hall a flagship performance venue for Renfrewshire and the west of Scotland, and preserve its place at the heart of life in the town;
  • an extension and refurbishment of Paisley Arts Centre
  • a new learning and cultural hub housing library services in a formerly-vacant High Street unit,
  • investment to create new outdoor events space and sporting facilities at St James Playing Fields

This complements investment by the council in town centre transport links and outdoor spaces, and ongoing work to help owners restore historic buildings;

What are the benefits?

The venue investment is central to the wider work to use the power of Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets to change its future by making us one of Scotland’s key destinations for culture and events.

Aside from preserving our precious architectural legacy and museum collections, the revamped venues will host activity which will bring huge volumes of new visitors and footfall to the town, bringing new life to the town centre and creating chances for business to thrive.

The museum alone is forecast to attract 125,000 visitors a year and create hundreds of new jobs during construction and once it opens. The revamped town hall will double attendees to 100,000 and – along with the arts centre – will be able to attract more and bigger shows, bringing more footfall into the town. The revamped St James will be able to host major outdoor events – such as big outdoor music gigs. And the investment in outdoor spaces will make the town more attractive for visitors, residents, workers and students to spend their time and money.

What is the timetable for closures?

For investment of this scale, we do have to close some of the venues while work is ongoing. Paisley Museum, Paisley Central Library and the Heritage Centre are planned to close on 20 September and reopen in 2022. Paisley Town Hall shuts at the end of 2018 and reopens in 2021, and Paisley Arts Centre will close in summer 2019 and reopen in autumn 2020.


What is happening to the museum building?

The Paisley Museum Reimagined project will see major revamps to all the buildings on the Paisley Museum site, including Coats Observatory.


There will be a complete internal redesign, which will – in partnership with the local community – reimagine the visitor experience, change how the collections are displayed, and double the number of objects on show. There will also be a new entrance, a café/restaurant and an upgraded shop, landscaping of a new Museum garden and much-improved access. The museum is being redesigned by award-winning international architects AL_A.

What happens to the collections?

The collections will be decanted to Paisley: The Secret Collection at 9 High St – the first publicly-accessible museum store on a UK High Street. The public will be able to see them at key points over the next four years by joining in a guided tour – contact 0141 618 5129 or visit for details.

Will the work impact on neighbours?

There will be an unavoidable degree of disruption when the construction starts in 2020 but Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure will be working hard to support and inform our neighbours while that happens. We will also keep in touch with local businesses to ensure they are aware of what is going on and ready to benefit from the long-term increase in footfall the new museum will bring.


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Paisley Museum

Paisley Museum, Scotland’s first municipal museum, designed by John Honeyman, was opened in 1871.

Peter Coats, partner in the large firm of thread makers J&P Coats, as the donor. This, together with the considerable collections amassed by the Paisley Philosophical society since 1808, made the venture possible.

Paisley Museum

The building also held a full library. In 1882, art and sculpture galleries were added, again paid for by Sir Peter Coats. The building was once more extended in 1901 and 1933 and included Library extensions.

New shawl galleries were added in 1974. In addition to its other major collections, the museum, naturally, has the finest collection of Paisley shawls in the world.

High Street Paisley


Tel: 0300 300 1210


Current opening hours are Tues – Sat 11am – 4pm and Sun 2pm – 5pm.
Public Holidays 11am – 4pm.

Closed every Monday, Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 4:00pm


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