The Norris Museum is a hidden gem. The museum is a cultural and historic place which, once discovered, draws visitors back again and again.
Caroe Architecture Ltd has seen this project successfully through both rounds of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant application process since Oliver Caroe’s appointment as lead architect. The project has delivered a new wing to the museum for educational activities and meetings, relocation of the library and archive within the Curator’s House, and the existing galleries have been remodelled for bespoke new exhibitions, with designers PLB Ltd.
The funding was awarded based on a careful feasibility study, which investigated options for the thoughtful reuse of internal spaces and arrangement of the buildings and exhibition spaces. The work was presented regularly to the client and a number of stakeholders, which included the museum’s friends and the town council; ideas were developed in a consultative manner and were enthusiastically received. The conservation and planning officers considered the ideas both imaginative and refreshing.
The completed work responds to and continues the rich textures and traditional forms of the existing historic buildings, giving the new education suite and interventions a contemporary feel through careful detailing of traditional materials. The education suite is glazed to the museum garden and to the river, maintaining views to the countryside beyond and creating a bright, inviting space for the museum to develop its work with schools and communities in St Ives.
Less visible to the visitor is the work that has gone into converting the old Curator’s House into a home for the Huntingdonshire archive, freeing up additional exhibition space in the main building for the Museum to host temporary exhibitions alongside its permanent collections.
At the heart of a small museum like the Norris, are the volunteers who now have a new workspace and rest room overlooking the gardens, which have been delightfully landscaped by local volunteers from St Ives in Bloom.