Hidden features revealed
25 June 2008
The removal of false ceilings and partition walls in RAMM's galleries has uncovered hidden features that haven't been seen for decades.
The galleries were stripped by local building company Arque in preparation for the arrival of the main contractor HBG at the end of June and the features revealed included vaulted ceilings, ornate window frames, fireplaces and wrought iron ventilation grills. Many of these original Victorian features will be visible in the newly refurbished galleries.
Another important part of this phase of the development was the underpinning of the back of the building by Uretek. RAMM's location next to the city wall meant that part of it was built over a Norman defensive trench. Although filled in during the intervening centuries the trench area was less compact than surrounding land and RAMM's Victorian foundations were unable to prevent the galleries above sinking over 50mm in its 140-year history. The injection of high-pressure epoxy resins into the soil below has stabilised the area and raised the galleries by a few millimetres. RAMM's new temporary exhibition gallery and public entrance can now be built on firm ground.
Councillor Kevin Mitchell, Lead Councillor for Environment and Leisure, said: "It's wonderful to be able to see how the redevelopment is progressing. It's quite a shock to see the empty rooms but with the Victorian architecture revealed, you can already feel how atmospheric the new galleries will be."
RAMM's £15million redevelopment scheme is funded by the HLF (£9million), ECC and other sources. It will allow RAMM to expand its public areas, redisplay the majority of galleries and improve the care of its collections.
Image left: Cllr Kevin Mitchell, Lead Councillor for Environment & Leisure, admires the Victorian vaulted ceiling exposed in the Rowley Gallery with Marketing Manager, Ruth Randall.