Abbot Hall Redevelopment Project

22/06/2018 PRESS RELEASE: Architects appointed to Abbot Hall redevelopment

22 June 2018

Architects appointed to Abbot Hall redevelopment

MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects) will lead £7.1m scheme

Lakeland Arts - one of the most significant arts and heritage organisations in the North - has appointed architects to the major £7.1m redevelopment of Abbot Hall.

Today (Friday 22 June) Lakeland Arts announced multi-award-winning MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects) as lead architects.

Martin Ainscough, Lakeland Arts' Chair of Trustees, added: "The redevelopment of Abbot Hall and surrounding estate will create a world-class cultural destination for visitors in the heart of Kendal, we are thrilled to be working with MUMA on the scheme.

"We see this important project as integral to the delivery of wider local and regional strategies within Cumbria and look forward to working closely with our community partners and audiences over the coming months as we develop the scheme."

Gordon Watson, Lakeland Arts' Chief Executive, said: "Since opening in 1962, Abbot Hall has not been subject to major redevelopment and is now in need of significant improvements to preserve both the historic site and its important collections for future generations.

"We are delighted to appoint MUMA to the project, who bring a wealth of experience of delivering exceptionally high quality schemes in the cultural sector. We are looking forward to working with the team to bring these exciting plans to fruition and grateful to Arts Council England and other funders for their support so far."

Abbot Hall Art Gallery is a Grade I listed eighteenth century riverside mansion located in Kendal, Cumbria and the site includes Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry situated in the Grade II listed Coach House and Stables.

For more than half-a-century Abbot Hall has built-up an outstanding permanent collection of over 6,500 works including one of the most significant collections of work by George Romney and nineteenth century watercolours by artists such as JMW Turner and John Ruskin.

The modern and contemporary collection includes work by Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Kurt Schwitters. Since 1962 it has curated major exhibitions by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Paula Rego and JMW Turner.

In addition, the Gallery works in collaboration with contemporary artists, recently including Laura Ford, Richard Long and Turner Prize nominee George Shaw and in partnership with national institutions including Tate, The National Gallery and the Arts Council Collection.

This Summer's programme includes exhibitions Elisabeth Frink: Fragility and Power (22 June to 29 September) and Auguste Rodin: rethinking the Fragment (10 August to 27 October).

Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry tells the history of the Lake District and stories of the people who lived there over the past 200 years.

Holding over 25,000 accessioned objects including industrial equipment, costume and textiles, the Museum also holds the archives of the Kendal photographer Joseph Hardman and renowned author of Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome.

The £7.1m scheme will rejuvenate this landmark site, rendering it more resilient and sustainable for future generations. World-class visitor experiences will be created, encompassing ambitious artistic programming, learning and engagement activities against a back drop of a fine permanent art collection, compelling temporary exhibitions and the definitive museum of the Lake District.

The site will be fully accessible, galleries will be improved to better care for and display the collection, with new environmental and security controls.

A new, double height project space will be created to display ambitious new exhibitions, including digital work.

A dedicated Learning Space will be created for our engagement work. collections store will be developed to reduce the impact of flooding and a new café, shop and visitor centre will improve the visitor welcome and drive income for the charity.

Lakeland Arts aims to launch the redeveloped Abbot Hall in 2022, its 60th anniversary year. 

In April 2018 Expressions of Interest from Design Teams were invited for this high profile redevelopment. Lakeland Arts is delighted to announce London-based MUMA as the winning tender.

MUMA recently redeveloped the Queen's Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey. In 2015 it renovated Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery in a £15m scheme that transformed the 126-year-old venue into a twenty-first century gallery.

Stuart McKnight, MUMA partner, said: "We are delighted to have been appointed as the Architects for this fascinating commission. The wonderful collection, the historic buildings and the special site together offer great potential for a transformative project."

MUMA will work with a team of specialist consultants including Julian Harrap Conservation Architects and award-winning landscape architect Sarah Price on the Abbot Hall scheme.

The total cost of the project is £7.1m. Lakeland Arts is currently in the development stage funded by Arts Council England (ACE) and will work through initial design stages to support a second stage application to ACE in December to secure a further £4.6m.

Lakeland Arts is aiming to raise £2.1m match funding from Trusts, Foundations and private individuals, with around 35% of match funding already secured.

Lakeland Arts will consult with planning officers, special interest and community groups so that it listens to a range of voices and opinions as it finalises the proposals for this sensitive and significant site.

Notes to editors:

For further information: Dickie Felton or

Image of Abbot Hall available from


MUMA (McInnes, Usher, McKnight Architects) was established in 2000 and since then has delivered a number of high profile, public arts projects. The principals of MUMA met when they studied together at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow.

MUMA's current public projects include a Masterplan for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. MUMA's Storey's Field Centre, an arts community centre and nursery for the University of Cambridge and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries, within the thirteenth Century Triforium of Westminster Abbey have recently opened to the public.

MUMA's Medieval & Renaissance Galleries at the V&A opened in December 2009 to critical acclaim, attracting interest from around the world. The project won national and international design awards including RIBA, English Heritage, D&AD, World Architecture Festival, British Construction Industry and Civic Trust Awards. In 2011 MUMA won the British Design Awards' Architectural Achievement of the Year and the Royal Scottish Academy Medal for Architecture for 'an outstanding work'.

MUMA's extension to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, opened in 2015 and won numerous awards including Civic Trust and RIBA Awards, the RIBA Northwest's 'Building of the Year' and the RIBA Northwest Award for Conservation. The gallery was short-listed for the RIBA Stirling Prize, when it won the BBC People's choice vote and the Architects Journal's readers' poll for Stirling Prize 2015. The gallery was named as the Art Fund's 'Museum of the Year 2015'.
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