23 April 2015

Natural History Museum – award finalist

The Natural History Museum roof restoration has been announced as a finalist in the Constructing Excellence Awards.

Photo by Michael Peckett The project to restore and clean the Grade I-listed museum roof has been shortlisted in the innovation category having only just scooped a Civic Trust Award.

Constructing Excellence recognises the very best companies, collaborations and projects - sharing best practice and inspiring others to adopt new and better ways of working that deliver outstanding results.

Judges will be looking for the most innovative approach to overcoming challenges, harnessing emerging technologies or developing a new or improved product or service.

Beard Construction was tasked with cleaning and restoring each of the 8,500 glass tiles on the roof as well as finding a way to stop the leaks that had plagued the museum since it opened more than 150 years ago.

Major challenges included finding a way to restore the glass tiles at roof level as taking them down to ground level was not an option; protecting the exhibits and visitors below from the elements; keeping the Pitt Rivers museum open, all without constructing a traditional, external temporary roof.

Beard Construction devised a highly innovative two-decked temporary roof under the glass roof with an internal scaffold for support and a unique sequencing system to clean the tiles in order.

Work took 14 months during which time the much-loved museum was closed to visitors, once it reopened, visitors returned in unprecedented numbers. 

Wendy Shepherd, Natural History Administrator at the museum, said: “Every single month set new records through to the end of 2014, with the annual visitor number for 2014 reaching 640,099. This figure represents a 14% increase on the previous best annual record (559,171 in 2011), despite the museum remaining closed for the first six weeks of 2014.”