Architects unveil first images of £42m Paisley Museum transformation



The first images showing how architects AL_A will transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination have been revealed today.

The museum is undergoing a £42 million transformation into a leading European museum telling the stories of Paisley’s people and Pattern, and home to its internationally-significant collections.

When it reopens in 2022, the reimagined museum is expected to draw audiences from Scotland, the UK and abroad – almost quadrupling visitor numbers to 125,000 a year.

And today sees the first reveal of images, showing how London-based AL_A – led by Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete – plans to restore and reinvigorate the museum.

Under the plans, a fully accessible entrance courtyard and a dramatic red glazed entrance hall will create a dynamic and inviting presence on the High Street and a contemporary face for the museum.

A new wing to the west of the existing building will provide step-free access through the museum up to the Coats Observatory (the oldest public observatory in Scotland), containing learning spaces and with views onto the new museum garden;

An attractive outdoor garden is also planned, creating a new public space for the town, and opening up previously-hidden views of the observatory while reconnecting it and the museum to the town’s High Street.

Internal renovations will improve accessibility and circulation, deliver international environmental standards for gallery spaces and allow the museum to more than double the number of objects on display to 1,200. The town’s traditional textile skills will be kept alive with an interactive weaving studio.

According to AL_A, the renovated museum and library buildings will be in conversation with the new to create a cohesive museum campus and a visitor experience of international quality.

The project is expected to create a £79m boost for the local economy over 30 years, with 138 jobs supported during construction, and 48.5 jobs per year through revenue and visitor spending.

Amanda Levete, principal of AL_A, said: “The brief for Paisley Museum is one of the most radical I’ve encountered. Paisley has a proud industrial past and a history of innovation and radical thinking. We have embedded this into our design to create an extraordinary place for the community of Paisley.”

Cllr Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, added: “Few places of Paisley’s size can claim such global impact – the town created a global fashion icon, was once the centre of the world’s textile industry, and Paisley people have shaped the world for centuries with their creativity.

“The reopened museum will celebrate all of that and more, by using Paisley’s outstanding collections to retell the stories of those people, and give the world a reason to come back to Paisley.

“The museum is central to a wider investment in Paisley’s venues and outdoor spaces, embedding culture and events at the heart of how we are transforming our historic town centre and putting it back on the map as a destination.

“The beautiful images revealed today show how this wonderful historic building will at once be preserved and modernised, and ensure this proud symbol of Paisley’s past is at the heart of its future.”

Project Team

  • Architect: AL_A
  • Conservation Architect: Giles Quarme & Associates
  • Engineering: Arup
  • Landscape Architect: GROSS.MAX
  • Exhibition Design: OPERA Amsterdam
  • Quantity Surveyors: Gardiner & Theobald


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