Waterfront Museum

  • Location: Swansea
  • Client: NMGW / Swansea City Council
  • Destination: National Waterfront Museum
  • Role: Lead consultant on the planning, development, funding and delivery of a new national museum

Fourth Street consultants advised the National Museums and Galleries of Wales throughout the development of the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea - from site selection, through feasibility and funding, to organisational structuring and delivery.

The sale of the Welsh Industrial & Maritime Museum site adjacent to the Oval Basin in Cardiff Bay funded a new collections store at Nantgarw. The National Museums and Galleries of Wales then embarked on a search for a new site to showcase its maritime and industrial collections and the stories about “Wales: the first industrial nation”.

Dan Anderson managed a Green Book appraisal of over a dozen proposed sites across Wales. The appraisal, which considered a range of qualitative criteria and quantifiable measures, ultimately selected Swansea waterfront as the preferred location.

Over the next 3 years, Jim Roberts and Dan Anderson worked continuously on the project as “lead consultant”, advising on all aspects of the development including: design team procurement, briefing and co-ordination; organisation and governance structuring; market assessment and visitor projections; operational business planning; authoring and managing the successful funding applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Welsh Development Agency, EU, Wales Tourist Board; and securing a Welsh Assembly underwrite of the fundraising campaign.

An important key to its success was the parallel appointment of the Architect (Wilkinson Eyre) and Exhibition Designer (Land Design Studio). Few projects at the time placed as high a value and importance on exhibition development as they did on the building and its ‘signature’ architecture.

While development planning succeeded in funding and delivering the project and laying the foundations for the museum’s success, NMGW’s assertive management of the destination since opening has challenged traditional thinking about museums and maintained a consistently high level of throughput.  The project is also credited with catalysing the wider regeneration of Swansea Docks.