The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum - Coventry, UK

Pringle Richards Sharratt
Date Built
Opened 1960 - Refurbished 2008
Jordan Wells

The Herbert Gallery and Museum was first planned in the 1930's after the Coventry City Council purchased a parcel of land on which it intended to erect a building to house its collection of art treasures and museum pieces.  With a donation of £100,000 from a local industrialist, Sir Alfred Herbert, work began in 1938.  However, only the basement was built before the War brought construction to a halt.  Work started again in 1954 with the laying of the foundation stone by Sir Alfred Herbert, who added a further £100,000 towards the cost of the building.  Herbert died three years before the Musuem named after him opened in May of 1960.

In 2001 the architectural practice of Pringle Richards Sharratt won the competition to refurbish and extend the Herbert.  Their design called for a new entrance that looked across to Basil Spence's Cathedral.  That entrance led into a two-storey high atrium/arcade flanked by new galleries.  The architect's website says that, "The roof over this new arcade and History Centre is a dramatic exposed Glulam gridshell, inspired by Ove Arup’s roof structure of Sir Basil Spence’s Cathedral of St. Michael opposite, and cross-laminated timber panels.

Raked timber columns support this structure on curved beams above the History Centre along the western edge, while the new two storey pre-fabricated, white concrete gallery extension offers support along the east."

They add that, "Outside, a new Peace Garden flanks the History Centre along Bayley Lane, much of which was razed during the World War II Blitz in 1940. The sculptures highlight the destruction and the role of Coventry - twinned with Hiroshima and Dresden –  promoting peace throughout the world. .... Cor Ten Steel walls, 3m high, are placed in accordance with historic party walls to re-instate the medieval proportion of the lane. "

"Engraved on the walls are the names of people who lived in these houses throughout the centuries; while a ‘destroyed’ edge to the walls commemorates the Blitz."

On the outside wall of the old museum building, beside Jordan Well, you will find two large Portland stone relief panels created by the artist Walter Richie.  Originally these panels were located beside a fountain in the post-war shopping area of the redeveloped Coventry City Centre but were relocated here in the 1990s.  They portray, "'Man's Struggle to control the World outside himself."