Mecanoo converts an ancient city hall in Scotland into a museum

The Perth Museum is a place rich in history, renovated in a fruitful balance between preservation and innovation, to once again house a symbol such as the Stone of Destiny.

The Perth Museum, restored by the Dutch firm Mecanoo, is one of the iconic sites of Scottish history and culture, now home to arguably the world's most famous piece of sandstone, the Stone of Scone – also known as Stone of Destiny – which for centuries since the times of Edward I Plantagenet has been a source of contention between England and Scotland.

The building previously housed the town hall and a concert hall, both fallen into disuse following the construction of more recent structures.  Mecanoo converted it into a museum through operations of preservation and selective transformation. The Lesser Hall has been reimagined as an elegant café, a space for the community in the heart of the city. The tall windows have been extended downward to touch the floor, increasing the visual relationship with the nearby St. John's Kirk.

The heart of the museum hosts the Main Hall: in the words of the designers, a sanctuary for Scotland's historical treasures, including the Stone of Scone itself. This hall is organized on two levels with perimetral balconies and, a bespoke oak wood box at the center,  serving as the focal point around which the narrative of the nation's history unfolds.

Mecanoo, Perth Museum, Perth, Scotland, 2024. Photo Greg Holmes Photography

To connect the two halls, Mecanoo has revived the theme of the Vennels, the traditional alleys of Perth, leading one of them through the heart of the building, and marking it with powerful bronze portals, paying homage to Scottish craftsmanship. The contemporary design elements, functional to the new program of the Perth Museum, merge into a layered cultural palimpsest, writing another page in the city's history.

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