Perth City Hall

Summary of Project 

Opening in spring 2024, this new £26.5 million cultural and heritage attraction will highlight the many objects and stories that put Perth and Kinross at the heart of Scotland’s history. Originally an Edwardian concert hall that played host to everything from markets and concerts to political conferences and wrestling matches, Perth City Hall is set to become a new heritage and arts attraction for the city, designed by international architectural firm Mecanoo.

The new museum will be a major new venue, displaying Perth & Kinross’s Recognised Collections of National Significance alongside iconic loans and touring exhibitions from the UK and abroad. In December 2020, First Minister and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon announced the Stone of Destiny, one of Scotland’s most iconic objects, will become the centrepiece of the new museum.

Stone of Destiny 

The Stone of Destiny is to become the centrepiece of the new museum at Perth City Hall. Following public consultation in autumn 2019, the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia, who are responsible for The Stone of Destiny on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, confirmed that the Stone, one of Scotland’s most iconic historical objects, will be moved to Perth from Edinburgh Castle, where it has been housed since 1996.

 

Perth City Hall will examine the Stone’s associations with early Scottish kingship and the development of Scottish nationhood. The newly developed Stone Gallery will explore its mythical origins, its ceremonial use at the royal site at Scone and its removal from Perthshire to Westminster Abbey by King Edward I of England in 1296 as well as its later history including its temporary retrieval by Glasgow University students in 1950 and its use in the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Design 

The existing 1911 City Hall building is located in what was Perth’s medieval core on a site which has been in continual use for over 1,000 years. It is the second ‘City Hall’ to occupy this site having replaced an 1845 building and for much of the 20th century provided the centre-stage for political, social and civic life in the city and region. In 2017, following a public architectural competition, Dutch practise, Mecanoo were appointed to oversee the redevelopment of the building and its conversion into a high quality museum venue and leading heritage attraction. 

 

Central to the design ethos for the building was the sensitive treatment of the building’s surviving heritage features as well as an understanding of the specific requirements of displaying Perth & Kinross’s Recognised Collections of National Significance. Also important in the design process was a recognition of the need for the new City Hall building to help reanimate the public spaces around St John’s Place including a reconfiguration of the building’s relationship with the adjacent, St John’s Kirk, the most historically significant building in the city. 

Building work 

Following a delay to the project caused by Covid-19, construction began on site in February 2021 with the initial stages of the programme of works consisting of archaeological surveys and structural interventions. With the main building construction programme expected to be complete by 2023, preparation to install the thousands of objects ready for display will begin – from the 10m log-boat and carved Pictish stones to tiny stone arrowheads, it’s anticipated that the installation process will take several months. The new museum is scheduled to open in spring 2024.