Old Haunts, Modern Builds: the New Museums Site in 2019

On March 15th 2019, I was offered the chance to visit a place quite familiar to me. Between 2002 and 2015, I worked as a librarian, based on the New Museums Site in Cambridge, in the Central Science Library (formerly known as the Scientific Periodicals Library).

In recent years, the site had been earmarked for refurbishment, involving demolition and repurposing of existing buildings. The CSL was marked for closure, with the building and its surroundings marked for other uses. This would be my first tour of the work that had taken place since the library shut in 2015.

Cavendish Laboratory

Originally a series of workshops containing chemical equipment and office spaces, the building needed stripping right back with all dangerous materials (including asbestos) removed from its framework.

Here’s what it looked like on my visit today:


Exams Hall

Originally a building housing exam rooms, a lift, a photography and illustration service (PandIS), a lecture theatre and many other office spaces, it has today been transformed into a unified Student Services building with a central atrium, student services (including a disability resource centre, an admissions office and a counselling service), staff spaces, an exams space and an open student space.

Here’s what it looked like today:


Arts School Building

Formerly housing the Central Science Library, lecture theatres and store rooms, this space has today been repurposed into space for a careers service and a combined staff break space. The main lecture theatre has been retained with upgraded facilities, but gone is the XXL baroque style (reprint) painting and 1934 lift.

Here’s what it looked like today:


All the work looks like it has been done to a high standard, with quality furniture already in situ and some smart added features. As the site contained listed buildings, a whole host of original features has been retained.

Thoroughly impressive stuff (particularly the airy atrium!) – let’s hope it’s well used when it all finally opens!

Further reading on this project:

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