SAHARA Highlights: Museums in the United Kingdom and Ireland

by Jacqueline Spafford and Mark Hinchman, SAHARA Co-Editors | Oct 11, 2022

Past Highlights have featured museums from North America and the Middle East. This month we look at a small sample of museums in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. These vary from open-air museums looking into the Bronze Age past, the Tudor era, and more; the neo-Gothic monuments of the 19th century; and innovative modern permanent and temporary designs, often incorporating or expanding earlier structures.

Now that we are able to visit museums in person again, we hope SAH members will continue to document their travels and share their photography on SAHARA.

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museum interior with neo-Gothic vaulting and glass ceiling
Thomas Newenham Deane and Benjamin Woodward, the Museum of Natural History, University of Oxford, Oxford, England, 1853–60. The museum is a prime example of neo-Gothic architecture which relied on cast iron for columns. Photograph by Michael J. Waters, 2010.

ship docked alongside modern angular building
Zaha Hadid, Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Scotland, 2007-2010. Across from the museum is the Tall Ship Glenlee, built in 1896 and restored by the Clyde Maritime Trust beginning in 1993. Photograph by Mesut Dinler.

white metal grid structure
Fujimoto Sou, Cloud Pavilion, Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens, London, England, 2013. Photograph by Erin McKellar, 2013.

timber-framed structure
Welsh Folk Museum (St. Fagans National Museum of History), Cardiff, Wales. The open-air museum was founded in 1948; this timber framed farmhouse from Llangadfan, Powys which dates to 1678 was moved to the museum in 1951. Photograph by Dell Upton, 1982.

building courtyard with reflecting pool
James Frazer Stirling, Tate Britain, London, England, 1982-86. View of the Clore Gallery entrance and reflecting pool. Photograph by Allan Kohl, 1991.

industrial building with glass addition
Giles Gilbert Scott (original structure), Herzog & de Meuron (renovation), Tate Modern, London, England, 1947–53, 1994–2000. The Bankside Power Station was transformed into the Tate Modern, incorporating the Turbine Hall in the façade and main entrance. Photograph by Nathaniel Walker, 2005.

wood framed structures surrounded by moat
Craggaunowen Prehistoric Park, Kilmurry, County Clare, Ireland. This open-air museum was established in 1965, and contains Bronze Age reconstructions such as these buildings on a man-made island, surrounded by a moat. Photograph by Allan Kohl, 2000.

three-story interior arcade
Francis Fowke, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1861–62; 1885–89. View of the cast iron columns in the Grand Gallery. Photograph by Richard W. Longstreth.

museum interior with multiple levels and angular roof
Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall Partners (RMJM), the Commonwealth Institute, London, 1962; now the Design Museum, redesigned by John Pawson, which opened in 2016. Photograph by Mark Hinchman, 2017.

art installation at museum entrance
Heatherwick Studio, installation for “Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary” at entrance of Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, 2012. Photograph by Peter Sealy, 2012.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610