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Work begins on library refurbishment and new exhibition space

17 April 2012

Work is now underway to transform the heart of the Wilkins Building, by opening up the space between the Flaxman Gallery under the dome and the ground floor. This will also create a new exhibition space at ground floor level.

Flaxman Refurbishment

UCL Estates has made particular effort to ensure that disturbance will be minimised to UCL users and visitors during the project.

Rosemary Clements (UCL Estates) explained: ”This is a project that we are really pleased to be overseeing and which will transform this part of the Wilkins Building. However, we feel that students’ revision and exams must take priority over refurbishment work - with this in mind we have put strict limitations on all building work until early June, to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum during this period. We have also worked with the contractors to ensure that other key events - for example the UCL Open Day and Graduation Ceremonies - will not be disturbed.”

The enhancement of this space is one of the first UCL Masterplan projects. The Oculus - the circular area of floor in the centre of the Flaxman Gallery - will be opened up and capped with a dramatic transparent structural glass plinth for John Flaxman’s sculpture, St Michael Overcoming Satan (1818-1824). St Michael has already been professionally stored and moved to a temporary location in the corner of the Flaxman Gallery’s north lobby. 

"This project will create an excellent and much-needed exhibition space that we can use to showcase our world class collections and to highlight some of our internationally important research in a creative and visually stunning way."

Sally Macdonald (UCL Museums and Collections)

The ground floor space - known as the Octagon - will become a gallery, with four large bespoke showcases incorporating audio visual and touchscreen technology. The funding of the gallery, which will be used for changing exhibitions featuring UCL’s museum collections and illustrating current UCL research, has been supported through HEFCE’s Strategic Development Fund.

gallery area

Sally MacDonald (Director, UCL Museums and Public Engagement) said: “This project is going to transform some of our most important historic spaces- it will be a fantastic area for the UCL community to use and enjoy. Upstairs in the Flaxman Gallery there will be additional light and benefits for library users, such as laptop power sockets on the new seating area, and great views down to the ground floor.

“The project will also create an excellent and much-needed exhibition space that we can use to showcase our world class collections and to highlight some of our internationally important research in a creative and visually stunning way.”

Access across the Flaxman Gallery and through the Octagon will be retained throughout the duration of this project.

For more information about this project, please visit the links below.

Images: The proposed improvements to the Flaxman Gallery area; How the ground floor gallery will look.


Related links:

Information about UCL Library refurbishment projects
UCL Estates
UCL Museums and Collections