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Book III, Chap. VII. ReconStructors And ProJectors.
Oldfield's Project Of ReconStruction (1858-1860)— continued.
Summary Of Space For AntiquiTies,
Space In Basement.
a partial light from the openings between them. To increase this, however, and to furnish the only light to the basement nnder the Fourteenth Greek Room, and the apartments adjoining its west side, panels of strong glass or open metal work might be inserted at convenient places in the various floors, and serve rather as an ornament to them. With the aid of some such arrangement, the last-mentioned portions of the basement would serve as storing-rooms; in default of it, they could merely be available for any apparatus used in heating or ventilation.
[Then follows a General Summary of Additional Space provided for the Collections of Antiquities, amounting to a net addition of forty-one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six square feet of superficial area.]
This is somewhat less than the additional space demanded in the estimate supplied to the Committee by Mr. Hawkins; but it supposes the removal of the Oriental and Ethnographical Collections, which Mr. Hawkins, when considering only the existing department, and not the question of its modification, included in its contents.
In addition, however, to the space provided for the collections, the new buildings would comprise about eight thousand six hundred feet on the three principal floors, for studies, closets, staircases, &c.
The space in the basement it is unnecessary to estimate in detail, being manifestly superabundant for its purpose.
The Plan of the Upper Floors shows the accommodation which might be provided, upon the present scheme, for the Departments of Natural History, by transferring to them the galleries and studies on that floor now occupied by Antiquities, and constructing an upper room on the site of the staircase, to unite the Central Saloon (Return 379, Plan 18, No. 1), into which the new principal staircase would conduct, with the galleries so transferred. The apportionment of the space amongst the different collections of Natural History must be left to more competent authorities than the present writer. He may, however, add a few words on the general character of the apartments comprehended in the transfer. The public galleries are similar to the present Zoological Galleries, not merely in their structure, but in their fittings. The wall-cases, therefore, might be available, without alteration, for the new collections; and the central cases might either be retained for Natural History, or removed to the new upper floors for Antiquities, as was found more convenient. The present Medal and Ornament Rooms might serve for the use of students, whilst the four private studies numbered 6, 7, 10, and 10 in Plan 18, would be used by the officers. The rooms for students might, if necessary, be further increased by a trifling alteration, in the event of the official establishment being transferred to the east of the Museum. In place of the closet adjoining the Medal Room, a private staircase might descend by a few steps to the entresol below, the whole of which might then be made an appendage to the upper, instead of the lower
floor, and would furnish two convenient rooms for students, over those numbered 4 and 6 in Plan 17. The same staircase, falling in with one already existing between the entresol and Secretary's Office, would supply a private communication between the upper and lower floors, in lieu of that abolished for the construction of the First Egyptian Room (III, 69).
The total area of the apartments transferred to Natural History may be summarily stated thus:—
Independently of the increased accommodation, the advantage of a<xjuiring for Natural History the exclusive possession of the upper floor is obvious and unquestionable, though the gain is not hmited to that department. By separating its galleries entirely from those of Antiquities, the practical superintendence of each would be simplified; one department would no longer be a necessary thoroughfare to another; the confusion of ideas experienced by ordinary visitors from the juxtaposition of collections so incongruous would be avoided; and as each department would have a separate entrance, a facility would be given for varying their periods or regulations of admission, as the circumstances of each might at any time require; considerations which must hereafter acquire increasing weight in proportion to the increasing magnitude of the Museum.
The ground immediately round the Museum, on the average of its three sides, is valued in the Report of the Special Committee of Trustees (twenty-sixth November, 1859), at about forty-three thousand five hundred pounds per acre. The houses in Charlotte Street are inferior in character to those on the other two sides, and might doubtless be purchased at a proportionately less price; but the writer, being anxious to err only on the safe side, assumes the average price as necessary. The ground proposed to be taken is about four hundred and fifty feet long, by a breadth generally of one hundred and fifty feet, but at the south end not exceeding one hundred and ten feet; so that the total area is about sixty-four thousand seven hundred square feet, or somewhat
ConveniEnce Of Giving It A Distinct
less than an acre and a half. The price, therefore, may be set down at sixty-five thousand pounds!
Buildings are estimated in the same report to cost about two pounds per square foot, reckoned upon the total internal area of the principal floors, without the basement. This calculation is founded on buildings consisting of a basement, a ground floor, and one upper floor. The buildings proposed by the writer ai-e in one respect more costly than these, as their basements bear a larger proportion to those floors on which the cost is calculated. But in two other respects they are more economical:—1. Because they include, in one part, a second floor, which swells the space from which the expense is calculated, without involving any addition to the basement. 2. Because some of the galleries on the ground floor are not really separate buildings, but parts of a single block of buildings, subdivided merely by partition walls. On the whole, therefore, the estimate of two pounds per foot seems the safest basis of calculation.
Now the quantity of internal area or floor space in the proposed new buildings is—
Means Oi Futuee ExTENSION.
Appendix to. Minutes of Evidence, 1860, pp. 245, ad Jin,
This gives, therefore, one hundred and sixty thousand seven hundred and twenty pounds for buildings, which, added to sixty-five thousand pounds for ground, would amount to two hundred and twenty-five thousand seven hundred and twenty pounds. A further sum must be added for alterations of the existing building, particularly for the removal and reconstruction of the staircase, and the formation of the two rooms described as III (69) and XIII (15). Assuming the expense of these alterations, quite conjecturally, at ten thousand pounds, the total cost would be two hundred and thirty-five thousand seven hundred and twenty pounds. The largeness of the valuation allowed for the ground gives reason to believe that the actual expense of ground and buildings would not exceed, and might probably fall short of, this estimate.
[In concluding his remarks on this plan of reconstruction, Mr. Oldpield points out that if ever hereafter further extensions should be required, they might be obtained without material disturbance of the proposed galleries. For Antiquities, one or more additional houses might be purchased either in Bedford Square, commencing with No. 4, or in Charlotte Street, commencing with No. 3. The former would be required for the prolongation of the Greek, Grseco-Eoman, or Roman Galleries; the latter for the Etruscan or Phoenician. For the minor collections on the Book Hi, upper floors either side would be equally appropriate. If further space Cimp.vu. were needed for Natural History, galleries might be built as suggested rec01'
_ _ - _ J ° 00 STEUCTOBS
by .Professor Maskelyne, extending either northwards to Montague AND pH0. Place, or eastwards to Montague Street, as found convenient.] Jectors.
To the clear and forcible exposition of his plan, thus given by its framer in the paper submitted to the Committee of 1860, many further elucidations were added in evidence. But enough has already been quoted for the perfect intelligibility of the plans so proposed for the sanction of the Trustees and of Parliament. 'I think/ said Mr. Oldfield, when questioned, in the Committee, as to the extent of provision for the probable future requirements of the Museum, 'the proper mode is to secure so much space as will at least meet those demands which are likely to occur during the construction of the building; and then, above all, to adopt a system of construction which would at any future time admit of an extension, without derangement of that which now exists, and so would obviate the very great expense Jf£££e? and inconvenience which has hitherto occurred from altera- ,une.1860' tions and reconstructions.' 143. 'P
In reporting upon this plan, originally framed in 1858, the Committee of 1860, after comparing with it two other but only partial plans of extension and rearrangement, prepared respectively by Mr. Sydney Smirke and by Mr. Nevil Stori-maskelyne, observe: * Your Committee have reason to think that if any of these plans were adopted— involving the [immediate] purchase of not more than two acres of land, with the [immediately] requisite buildings and alterations—the cost would not exceed three hundred thousand pounds. If, however, only this limited portion of land should be at once acquired, it is probable that the price of what remains would be enhanced. If the whole were to Book Itt, be purchased, as your Committee have already recommended,
Chap. VII. r J ,J
Ricok- the cost above stated would be, of course, increased.
!tmd v*o- The recommendation here referred to has been already
Jectom. quoted in a preceding chapter, together with a statement of the grounds on which it was based.
The only additional elucidation, on this head, which it seems necessary to give may be found in a passage of the evidence of one of the Trustees, Sir Roderick Mubchison,
seechap.m who, in 1858, with other eminent men of science, presented a Memorial to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, praying that the British Museum might not be dismembered by any transference of the Natural History Collections to another locality. After saying: 'I entirely coincide still in every opinion that was expressed in that Memorial, and I have since seen additional and stronger reasons for wishing that [its prayer] should be supported,' Sir Roderick added: 'When it was brought before us [that is, before a SubCommittee of Trustees] in evidence, that if we were largely to extend the British Museum at once in situ, and that as large a building were to be made in situ as might be made at Kensington, we then learned that the expense would be greater. But I have since seen good grounds to believe that by purchasing the ground rents or the land, to north, east, or west, of the Museum, according to a plan which I believe has now been prepared and laid before the members of the Committee [referring to that of Mr. Oldfield, just described], and availing ourselves of the gradual * power of enlargement the Nation would be put to a much less
Bm^c', expense for several years to come, and would in the end
iMoiro!m reause those objects which it is the aim t of men of
m science to obtain.'
* Printed by oversight' general' in the Minutes of Evidence.