History Transported

Michael Leech examines the new look for the London transport museum.

In the depths of the recently reopened London Transport Museum on the Covent Garden piazza in WC2 a blackbird trills. It is only one surprise to be found in the newly redesigned building, once the Floral Hall of the old market. The previous museum had only been going for thirteen years since the flowers went west, so why did the collection of old vehicles need this new look?

'Several reasons', says assistant director, Helen MacKintosh, as we stand on the upper walk looking over LT route-masters and horse- drawn buses along with chunks of classic tube train. 'We were originally a one-floor museum, yet with lots of upper space in this : handsome high building. We could not go down because the Theatre Museum is below us; we could not go up above the glass roof because the building is protected and can not be extended, and there is no space to go sideways. So we created these mezzanine levels. We now have a third more space than we had for displays, as the two new levels have given us room for temporary exhibition halls and viewing galleries.'

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