The doors of Paisley Museum were locked for the last time yesterday (Thursday) before work starts on a £42 million revamp of the historic visitor attraction.
The refurbishment of Paisley Museum that will take four years to complete is the flagship project in a £100m investment in Paisley town centre over the next few years. The museum is being redesigned by award-winning international architects, AL_A.
A piper played as chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes and the organisation’s chief executive, Joyce McKellar locked the Museum’s giant doors and carried out the last few exhibits.
The adjacent Central Library also closed yesterday, as work is about to start on creating a new-look cultural hub in Paisley.
The new-look museum will showcase its outstanding art, science and natural history collections, along with telling the story of the Paisley pattern, the town’s famous weavers and being at the centre of the global thread-making industry.
The revamped museum is expected to attract 125,000 visits a year – almost four times current numbers – when it reopens in 2022. And it’s estimated that it will create huge amounts of visitors to Paisley town centre, as well as a £72m economic boost over 30 years.
The redevelopment will include a contemporary addition to the existing Victorian-era building, major revamps to all four museum buildings including the Coats Observatory, and a complete internal redesign reimagining the visitor experience and doubling the number of objects on display.
The museum collections will still be available to view at Paisley: The Secret Collection on the High Street, while a temporary Paisley Central Library will open over the winter while a new learning and cultural hub is constructed on the High St, to open in 2021
Library services will still be available at Renfrewshire’s other 11 libraries and online in the meantime, while public-access PCs will be available at the Paisley.is office at 5a High Street.
The public will have access to the library’s Heritage Centre when it moves to temporary premises at Mile End Mill, Paisley, in November. The library service will also move to premises at Paisley’s Lagoon Leisure Centre, in January and the popular Bookbug sessions will also be held in The Lagoon.
Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “This may seem like the end of an era for Paisley’s wonderful Museum and Central Library.
“But it’s also the beginning of something fantastic that will put Paisley at the heart of the Scotland’s culture and heritage.
“When these doors open again in four years time we’ll have a visitor attraction that will bring people flocking to Paisley and it will also be something local people can feel rightly proud about.”
Joyce McKellar added: “Paisley Museum has a treasure trove of many different kinds of collections that will be of interest to people from all over the world.
“It will be well worth the wait to have a new museum that can do justice to these collections.”
The museum project is being funded by Renfrewshire Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
The work is part of an investment in Paisley town centre venues by Renfrewshire Council to support a wider push to use the town’s unique cultural and heritage assets to transform the area’s future and bring new footfall to the town centre.
That programme includes the transformation of Paisley Museum, a £22m revamp of Paisley Town Hall, a new learning and cultural hub on the High Street unit, a £2.5m revamp of Paisley Arts Centre, investment in sporting facilities and outdoor events space at St James Playing Fields, and investment to improve existing town centre outdoor spaces and transport links.