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Customer - Oxford University Estates Directorate

Architect - Rick Mather Architects

Contract value - £3.0 million

Contract duration - 37 Weeks

Procurement - Competitive Tender

Case Study - Ashmolean Museum, Egyptian Galleries

Remodelled Egyptian Galleries at the Ashmolean Museum

The project to improve and refurbish the Ashmolean Museum's Egyptian galleries in Oxford illustrates Beard's wide experience with sensitive heritage buildings. Completed in two phases, the work on the Grade I listed Charles Cockerell building involved relocating the shop to the lower ground floor to provide additional space and creating a new sequence of galleries to display the iconic collections.

To enlarge openings between the original galleries for improved access the team carried out extensive structural work as well as repairing and conserving as much as possible of the building fabric and finish. Installing new M&E sevices to improve lighting and environmental conditions throughout the new galleries added further challenges, with a complex crane operation to lift new plant machinery onto the museum roof, from one of Oxford's busiest streets.

With so many precious exhibits in nearby galleries, it was essential to conatain construction dust and moisture and to minimise vibration to prevent damage and to ensure that other areas of the museum reamained open.

Challenges & Solutions

Minimising the impact of construction on visitors and subsequent income was a key priority. The collaboration achieved across the project team, and with museum staff, was essential in achieving goals and in setting the optimum sequence of work.

Of special concern was the fragile Shrine of Taharqa, an immovable 4m square monument, at the very centre of the galleries. A specially constructed shell, lowered over the shrine, protected it from surrounding building activities, while observation panels and vibration sensors enabled staff to monitor the shrine as work progressed.

"Beard has wide experience with buildings such as this and the right specialist skills. The collaboration achieved by the team with Museum staff and architects Rick Mather has ensured a smooth running project, overcoming both technical and logistical challenges to deliver a stunning new exhibition space for our Egyptian collections. ”
Henry Kim , Ashmolean Development Project Manager