WORK will soon begin on a brand-new wing of the British Museum.
But borough residents won’t need to go to London to see it: it is being built next to Shinfield’s Thames Valley Science Park.
Once completed, the 15,000sq m building will house ancient sculptures, mosaics, archaeological assemblages and cast collections from the British Museum’s Archaeological Research Collection (BM_ARC). They will be moved from the Museum’s current external storage facility in London, which is due to close in 2023.
The collection’s new home is a specially designed single-storey building that is meant to be sensitive to its surroundings and include a courtyard providing natural light and views out the natural woodland.
The intention is that the buildings will be open to university students, academics, schools and heritage organisations access to the collections it will house – and the public will be welcomed by appointment.
And a new storage and global research facility with study facilities and a loans logistics centre will allow the Museum to lend objects from the research collection.
Planning permission was secured by Reading-based, planning and design consultancy, Barton Willmore.
Nick Paterson-Neild, planning director at Barton Willmore, said: “The plans for the British Museum Archaeological Research Collection facility, which will take a significant step towards reality when construction starts in the spring, are an incredibly exciting opportunity for Wokingham, bringing a national and global institution to the borough.
“Having secured planning permission for the Thames Valley Science Park previously, the building of the BM_ARC is the next piece in the creation of a hub for knowledge-based research and innovation in Berkshire with easy access to Heathrow, the M4 and the British Museum.”
Tony Wilson, the British Museum’s project director for the BM_ARC project, said: “We are delighted to have reached this important stage of the project, and Barton Willmore have been instrumental in helping us to achieve planning consent for the site.
“The Museum is excited about the prospect of its new collection storage and research facility being based in Wokingham, and we are very much looking forward to the next stage of the project.”