Full picture of outside Sea City Museum

History

The buildings history and how it became a museum

SeaCity Museum opened on 10 April 2012, marking the centenary of the Titanic setting sail from Southampton’s port on its fateful voyage.

Southampton Civic Centre front entrance

The museum building is part of the iconic Grade II* listed Civic Centre buildings, which were started in 1929. London architect E. Berry Webber designed the building as four interconnecting blocks faced with white Portland stone. The Duke of York (later King George VI) laid the foundation stone of the first section in 1930.

The Law Court block (now the current museum) was the second section to be built and consisted of three courtrooms, all grouped around an imposing barrel-vaulted entrance. The courtrooms were held to be some of the finest in the country, with walnut panelled walls, mahogany doors and finely decorated ceilings. The building also housed offices, the police station, cells and an exercise yard.

Many original features from the building’s history are still intact, such as the stunning main hall celling, where you’ll find the entrance to Southampton’s Titanic Story and Gateway to the World exhibitions.

The Pavilion with its distinct jagged shape, described as prows of ocean liners, was designed by Wilkinson Eyre and approved by English Heritage in 2010. It was added as part of a major renovation of the building to create the museum for the Titanic’s centenary in 2012. Its exterior has been finished in stone to fit in with the civic centre building’s Portland stone exterior. The Pavilion originally hosted temporary exhibitions such as Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Dinosaur
exhibitions however it now houses the new permanent Southampton Stories exhibition.

Girl pointing at globe

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