New Building Natural History Museum Basel and State Archives Basel-Stadt
The Natural History Museum Basel and State Archives Basel-Stadt are two cultural institutions whose importance extends beyond Basel and its region. Both institutions are housed in various locations, which is an unsatisfactory circumstance for reasons of conservation; some buildings are severely in need of renovation. For both operational and structural reasons, new space is essential.
The condition of the first Basel museum building, built by Melchior Berri in 1848, and the scattered locations in the old city which together comprise the home of the Natural History Museum Basel provide is too inadequate for it to function properly. The most urgent renovation work, which began in 2010, has led to a permanent shortage of exhibition space. A total renovation is unavoidable; in the absence of relocation, this would necessitate closing the museum to the public for between three and five years and storing the collections in temporary depots.
The new build will gear both institutions towards a contemporary and future-oriented state of affairs, both in terms of structure and technology as well as for their work in providing and disseminating information. The Natural History Museum Basel will fulfil its purpose even more exuberantly as a public- and user-friendly institution, with openness extending throughout the collections area. Alongside permanent and special exhibitions, it will be possible in future for parts of the natural science collections to play a significant role. Museum visitors will enjoy access to a open repository of knowledge.
Various public and internal areas will be used as common space. The generously sized entrance hall welcomes visitors, with the options of spending time in the museum café, lounge or picnic area. An auditorium, events rooms, conference room, workshops and infrastructure areas for delivery and cleaning will be operated and used as shared and reciprocally used facilities.
The building plan is for completion between 2020 and 2023. The moving in and setting-up phase will take one year in the case of the State Archives Basel-Stadt and two for the Natural History Museum Basel. After that, from 2024/5, a new public building devoted to culture will be an exciting guidepost for the aspirational district of St Johann.