Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds has one of the UK’s most significant medical collections and this spring it will open its doors to showcase an extensive £4.1million redevelopment to engage people in the story of healthcare.
Thackray is located on Beckett Street, in the Harehills area of Leeds next to St James’s University Hospital, in an area known as the medical mile.
The building was purpose built for the Leeds Union workhouse in 1861. It went on to become a hospital and was used by the NHS until 1990. In 1997 the museum opened, founded by Thackray Medical Research Trust.
In 2015, architects Simpson & Brown were appointed to develop proposals to improve the visitor experience at the existing Grade II listed museum building, looking in particular at improving accessibility, visitor flow and circulation routes by creating a more fluid space.
The redevelopment has been made possible thanks to £1.5m awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Other funding has come from, Wellcome Trust, Thackray Medical Research Trust, Arts Council England, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and Foyle Foundation.
Simpson & Brown designed a new atrium within the heart of the existing building: improving the visitor reception areas, rationalising public circulation spaces and unlocking the previously unused rear wing of the building for community use. The design has created a fully accessible one-way visitor flow around the two floors of the exhibition space.
The new atrium walls rise up to the first floor exhibition framing an illuminated suspended installation within the new double height space.