SeaCity Museum is a museum in Southampton, England, which opened
on 10 April 2012 to mark the centenary of RMS Titanic's departure from
the city. It is housed within a part of the Grade II* listed civic
centre building which previously housed the magistrates' court and
police station. The museum contains two permanent exhibitions, one
dedicated to Southampton's connection with RMS Titanic, and the other
to the city's role as gateway to the world. A third space for
temporary exhibitions is housed in a purpose built pavilion extension
to the civic centre. Further phases of development may yet add to the
The museum was designed by
Wilkinson Eyre with Kier Southern serving
as the main contractor. The budget for the museum was £15M,
approximately £5M of which came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with
Southampton City Council and
Southampton Cultural Development Trust
providing the remainder. The council had planned on selling works
from their municipal art collection to fund the museum, but backed
down after encountering significant opposition from both within and
outside the city.
7 External links
Plans for a heritage centre in
Southampton began to emerge in 2002,
with the city council's formation of the Heritage Working Group to
explore options and to outline the way forward for such a scheme.
In 2004, the following locations were shortlisted as potential sites
for the then named "Story of Southampton" heritage centre –
Lower High Street 50°53′51″N 1°24′16″W / 50.897536°N
1.404339°W / 50.897536; -1.404339 (Lower High Street)
Mayflower Park 50°53′52″N 1°24′32″W / 50.897836°N
1.408783°W / 50.897836; -1.408783 (
Berth 101 at the Port of
Southampton 50°54′01″N 1°24′53″W
/ 50.900206°N 1.414747°W / 50.900206; -1.414747 (Berth 101)
Vosper Thornycroft shipyard, Woolston 50°53′44″N
1°22′58″W / 50.895617°N 1.382861°W / 50.895617;
Vosper Thornycroft shipyard)
All of the shortlisted sites were deemed too costly and unworkable.
Following these developments, in 2006
Southampton Police announced
their intention to vacate their civic centre headquarters due to a
lack of space. With the magistrates' court having left the building
in 2001, this would leave an entire block of the civic centre vacant.
And so the civic centre became a candidate to host the heritage
centre, and by 2007 was considered the front runner.
Plans were unveiled for the civic centre heritage centre in 2008. The
original plans included a 3-storey extension to the building, and a
water feature running from nearby Watts Park, both of which were
scrapped to reduce the cost by £10M to £28M.  The project was
split into two phases. The focus of phase one was to be Southampton's
Titanic connection, and the Sea City name was attached. Phase one had
a budget of £15M and a completion date due in 2012.
Southampton City Council sought Heritage Lottery Funding towards the
museum; it was awarded £0.5M in 2009 for the development phase, and a
further £4.6M in 2010 for the construction.
To raise the rest of the £15M, in 2009,
Southampton City Council
proposed selling off works from their municipal art collection. The
council selected two works to be sold, an oil painting by Alfred
Munnings, After the Race (1937),[a] and one of two bronzes by Auguste
Rodin, either Eve (1880)[b] or Crouching Woman (1882).[c] The council
believed that these works were not core to the gallery's focus on
British modern and contemporary 20th and 21st century art. Due to
space constraints at
Southampton City Art Gallery, only 200 of the
3,500 works in the collection can ever be displayed there at one time;
the council believed that the sale of the two works would allow space
to be created in the new museum for the display of 100 further works
from the collection. It was hoped that the sale would generate £5M
towards the museum.
The proposed sale of the artwork had backing from the local paper, the
Daily Echo, which had campaigned for three years for the
deaccessioning of pieces from the "overflowing" municipal
collection. There were voices of dissent from within the city
however, in spite of Alec Samuels, the then Conservative council
leader's assertion that, "If we don't sell some paintings we don't get
a heritage centre." Councillors from opposition Liberal Democrat and
Labour camps described the proposed sale as a "betrayal of public
trust" which would damage the reputation of the city's museum.
Alan Whitehead, MP for neighbouring
Southampton Test described the
proposed sale as an "outstandingly bad idea", which would discourage
future donations and bequests to the city and destroy the national
standing of its gallery. Labour politicians proposed borrowing
funds as an alternative to the proposed sale, but the ruling
Conservative faction dismissed this plan, arguing that it would lead
to either cuts in front-line services, or increases in council tax, to
cover interest and repayments.
Opponents formed the "Save our Collection" group to campaign against
the proposed art sale; they protested outside the civic centre and
handed a petition with over 2,500 signatories opposing the proposed
sale to the council. Nonetheless, the council voted to proceed with
its plans, and in September 2009, they formally approached Baroness
Scotland of Asthal, then
Attorney General for England and Wales
Attorney General for England and Wales to
approve the sale. Criticism came from further afield when the
Museums Association stated that the proposed sale would be in breach
of the association's code of ethics as
Southampton City Council had
not fully explored alternate sources of funding. The Munnings forms
part of the Chipperfield bequest to the city, over which the
an advisory responsibility. They joined in the criticism, stating that
"the sale of works acquired through the Chipperfield bequest to raise
funds towards a capital project is not advisable and, indeed, not in
the spirit of the bequest." The Art Fund, which had previously
provided funding towards the acquisition of Bridget Riley's Red
Movement (2005)[d] by the city, expressed concern at the proposed
sale, wary that it would "set an uncomfortable precedent, stretching
the sector's guidelines and effectively sanctioning the disposal of
works of art from publicly-owned collections to support other areas of
public sector cultural provision".
In November 2009, due to the strong opposition,
Council placed the proposed art sale on hold to re-evaluate their
funding possibilities. By February 2010, the council had cancelled
the proposed art sale. The council stated that movements in the
property markets had allowed it to consider selling off assets that
were previously seen as unviable for sale. The council also looked to
other organisations to provide funding, such as partnerships with
Hampshire County Council
Hampshire County Council through a loan of artworks
scheme. And if these efforts were to fail, the council stated that any
shortfall would be met through borrowing.
A charity, the
Southampton Cultural Development Trust[e] was formed in
2010 to raise funds towards the project. The museum further
received a grant from the
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport in
conjunction with the Wolfson Foundation, and another from the Garfield
Over its first two years of operations income was £468 thousand (23%)
lower than expected. Visitor numbers were 10 thousand lower than
expected at 240 thousand. Visitor numbers have continued to fall
in subsequent years raising concerns over ongoing funding and long
The pavilion consists of three interlocking bays
Southampton City Council appointed the design team in July 2009,
Wilkinson Eyre as lead. A year later, Kier Southern were named
as main contractor. Despite reservations over the appearance of the
English Heritage gave their approval for the designs,
and final planning permission was granted in September 2010.
Work began in October. There were some obstacles to the build,
contractors discovered significant corrosion to the original
building's steel frame which had to be repaired. Adding the necessary
security elements to cover museum exhibits in a listed building also
proved challenging. Features from the original building were
preserved in the design, the former prison cells were kept intact and
used as toilet facilities, and a court room was preserved as an
By August 2011, contractors had reached the top of the pavilion, and a
topping out ceremony was held. The pavilion was designed as three
interlocking bays to negotiate the irregular site upon which it sits,
which rises two metres from South to North. Stone aggregate was used
on the pavilion's exterior to maintain consistency with the original
civic centre building's portland stone exterior. Wilkinson Eyre
described the pavilion as a "bold architectural addition" which
signalled "the presence of a new important cultural attraction within
the city". Oliver Green, writing for
Museums Journal described the
shape of the pavilion as echoing the "prows of ocean liners cutting
through art deco waves". The completed museum provides 2,000 m2
of exhibition and learning space. The museum opened on time on 10
April 2012, marking the centenary of RMS Titanic's departure from the
Southampton City Council forecast that the museum would receive
over 150,000 visitors per year, but these numbers were only achieved
in the first year, and annual totals have subsequently fallen
Work on the
SeaCity Museum attracted positive attention from industry
Institution of Structural Engineers shortlisted Ramboll's
structural design work for their 2012 Structural Awards; Architects'
Wilkinson Eyre and interior fitters 8build for
their 2012 Retrofit Awards.
There are three exhibitions at SeaCity, all of which were designed by
Urban Salon. Two permanent exhibitions are housed in the former police
station and magistrates' court.
Gateway to the World examines Southampton's history, and its role as a
hub for human migration. Exhibits include a one tonne, seven-metre
long replica of RMS Queen Mary, rehoused from
Southampton Maritime Museum and Southampton
Museum of Archaeology closed permanently in September 2011 to allow
their exhibits to be rehoused at SeaCity and Tudor House
Titanic Story explores the
Titanic tragedy through the
eyes of its crew, the majority of whom listed
Southampton as their
address. A preserved court room uses audiovisual elements to re-enact
scenes from the British inquiry into the sinking and to explore its
ramifications. The civic centre clock tower, approximately the height
of a funnel on the
Titanic can be viewed through a roof light as
visitors enter the exhibition, giving them an impression of the scale
of the ship. The story incorporates audio recordings given by the
survivors and features interactive elements allowing visitors to steer
the virtual ship and to stoke its engines.
The pavilion plays host to temporary exhibitions. The first of which,
to coincide with the
Titanic centenary, is Titanic: The Legend which
explores the public's enduring fascination with the ship through its
portrayal in popular culture. The exhibition hosts screens playing
back scenes from films such as 1912's
In Nacht und Eis
In Nacht und Eis and 1997's
Titanic memorabilia collected include Steiff "mourning
bears", beers from the
Titanic Brewery, jigsaw puzzles and many other
such kitsch that SeaCity scoured the internet to find.
Catherine Roberts, reviewing Southampton's
Titanic Story for Culture24
described the comparison between the height of the civic centre and
the height of the
Titanic as inspired. She praised the graphics for
making the story digestible for children and adults. And while she
mentioned that the motif of following several crew members through the
story never quite pans out, she concluded that it was a well-conceived
exhibition and that "there can be no better place than
remember both those who died and those who survived the Titanic’s
first and final voyage."
Oliver Green, writing in
Museums Journal welcomed the new building,
comparing it favourably to
Southampton Maritime Museum's former home
at The Wool House, which he described as being "completely unsuitable
for telling the story of 20th century Southampton". Green praised the
use of multimedia as "creative but restrained", and highlighted their
careful integration with the museum's collections. He finished his
review on a hopeful note, eyeing the still undeveloped spaces
available in the civic centre building for further expansion. He
concluded that it would be "a real shame if the project were to falter
at this stage", and that further phases of expansion "must surely be
good for the city and its future success."
^ "View art work: After the Race".
Southampton City Art Gallery.
Retrieved 6 May 2012.
^ "View art work: Eve".
Southampton City Art Gallery. Retrieved 6 May
^ "View art work: Crouching Woman".
Southampton City Art Gallery.
Retrieved 6 May 2012.
^ "View art work: Red Movement".
Southampton City Art Gallery.
Retrieved 14 August 2012.
Southampton Cultural Development Trust official website". Retrieved
15 August 2012.
^ a b c Steve Menary (January 2012). "The Icebergs are all in the
Past". Building Projects. netMAGmedia: 43–47. Retrieved 21 April
^ a b Matt Smith (18 February 2010). "
Southampton City Council back
track on art sell off plans for museum funds". Southern Daily Echo.
Retrieved 6 May 2012.
^ "First Steps to 'Story of Southampton' Centre" (Press release).
Southampton City Council. 8 July 2002. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
^ "'Story of Southampton' a Step Closer" (Press release). Southampton
City Council. 24 May 2004. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
^ "Item No. 19 – Proposed New Heritage Centre" (PDF). Meeting of
Economic Development, Leaders and Leisure Scrutiny Panel. Southampton
City Council. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
^ David Newble (21 February 2006). "Heritage centre plan for old
magistrates court". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 24 April
^ Matt Smith (17 February 2007). "Could a deal at last be on the cards
for a city arts complex?". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 27 April
^ Peter Law (28 January 2008). "Civic centre plans unveiled". Southern
Daily Echo. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
^ Peter Law (25 July 2008). "
Titanic vision for £30m Museum".
Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
^ a b "
Titanic Sea City Museum plans gather steam" (Press release).
Southampton City Council. 31 March 2009. Retrieved 27 April
^ Peter Law (5 April 2009). "Sea City Museum could help put
Southampton on the map". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 27 April
Southampton Sea City Museum sets sail" (Press release). Heritage
Lottery Fund. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
^ a b Peter Law (30 July 2009). "Works by Rodin and Munnings could
raise £5m". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
^ Matt Smith (18 July 2009). "'Sell Art or no
Titanic Museum' says
Council Leader". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
Alan Whitehead (10 August 2009). "Don't sell
Retrieved 14 August 2012.
^ Matt Smith (28 September 2009). "Borrow cash but don't sell our
city's art". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
^ Peter Law (16 September 2009). "Plans to sell off art are voted
through". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
^ Patrick Steel (23 September 2009). "
Southampton sale does not meet
MA's code of ethics". Museums Association. Retrieved 14 August
Martin Wainwright (27 September 2009). "
Southampton council warned
over plan to sell £5m worth of art works to fund gallery complex".
The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
Bridget Riley signs petition to stop sell-off of Southampton's art
collection". Southern Daily Echo. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 14
Southampton Council bows to pressure from Museums Association".
Southern Daily Echo. 7 November 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
^ Felicity Heywood (26 February 2010). "
Southampton does U-turn on art
sale". Museums Journal. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
^ Peter Law (18 December 2009). "Southampton's
Titanic Story plans
unveiled". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
SeaCity Museum successfully bids for £200,000
funding". Southern Daily Echo. 14 January 2012. Retrieved 15 August
Garfield Weston Foundation awards £200,000 in support of SeaCity
Southampton Cultural Development Trust. June 2012. Retrieved
15 August 2012.
^ a b "Southampton's
SeaCity Museum fails to meet targets". BBC News.
BBC. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
^ a b "Southampton's SeaCity Museum: Visitors almost halve". BBC News.
BBC. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
^ Peter Law (17 March 2010). "
English Heritage back Sea City Museum
plans". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
^ Matt Smith (29 September 2010). "Work starts next week on
Southampton's Sea City museum". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 15
^ a b c "The SeaCity Museum, Southampton, set to open on the 100th
anniversary of the Titanic's departure from the city" (Press release).
Wilkinson Eyre. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
^ "Sea City museum reaches highest point" (Press release). Kier Group.
11 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
^ a b Oliver Green (July 2012). "Review: SeaCity Museum, Southampton".
Museums Journal. 112 (7): 44–47. ISSN 0027-416X.
^ Matt Smith (26 April 2012). "10,000 visit Southampton's SeaCity
Museum in less than two weeks". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 22
Structural Awards 2012: Sea City Museum". Structural Awards.
Institution of Structural Engineers. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
^ Patrick Knox (16 August 2012). "
SeaCity Museum up for Structural
Award". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
^ Richard White (3 July 2012). "AJ exclusive: finalists for Retrofit
Awards". Architects' Journal. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
^ "First Exhibit Arrives at SeaCity Museum". Heart South Coast. 27
February 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
Southampton ready for
Titanic SeaCity Museum". Culture24. 27
February 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
^ "Southampton's Maritime Museum to close doors". Southern Daily Echo.
24 September 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
^ Matt Smith (12 June 2011). "
God's House Tower
God's House Tower lease up for sale".
Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
^ "God's House Tower: A History of the Museum".
Council. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
^ Clive Couldwell (7 June 2012). "Reliving Titanic". AV. Metropolis
International. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
^ a b Catherine Roberts (18 April 2012). "
SeaCity Museum brings
Titanic story home to Southampton". Culture24. Retrieved 14 August
^ a b Jon Reeve (27 March 2012). "First look inside Southampton's
SeaCity Museum and
Titanic exhibition". Southern Daily Echo.
Retrieved 21 April 2012.
^ Raphael Satter (3 April 2012). "Titanomania: Museum charts obsession
with Titanic". Associated Press. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
SeaCity Museum official website
SeaCity Museum at
Southampton City Council
Buildings and structures in Southampton
Grade I listed
King John's Palace
Medieval Merchant's House
St. Julien's Church
St. Mary's Church, South Stoneham
St. Michael's Church
Tudor House and Garden
The Wool House
286 (Swaythling Methodist Church)
Avenue St. Andrew's Church
Central Baptist Church
Christ Church, Freemantle
St Alban's Church
St. Denys Priory
St Edmund's Church
St Joseph's Church
St. James' Church, Shirley
St. Mary's Church
St Michael and All Angels Church
Transport and bridges
Southampton Terminus railway station
St Denys railway station
Swaythling railway station
Woolston railway station
Schools and colleges
Bitterne Park School
Chamberlayne College for the Arts
King Edward VI School
Oasis Academy Lord's Hill
Oasis Academy Mayfield
Redbridge Community School
Regents Park Community College
Sholing Technology College
St Anne's Catholic School
Saint George Catholic College
Upper Shirley High School
Woodlands Community College
Civic Centre (SeaCity Museum,
Southampton City Art Gallery,
South Stoneham House
Ordnance Survey buildings
Royal South Hants Hospital
Titanic Engineers' Memorial
Townhill Park House
God's House Tower
King George V Graving Dock
Marlands Shopping Centre
National Oceanography Centre
Solent Sky aviation museum
South Stoneham Cemetery
Southampton General Hospital
St Mary's Stadium
Titanic Musicians' Memorial
Pubs and recreation
The Hobbit pub
Southampton Old Bowling Green
The Old Farm House
Red Lion Inn
All Saints' Church
God's House Hospital
Southampton Power Station
First class facilities
Second and Third class facilities
Changes in safety practices
Legends and myths
Lifeboat No. 1
Wreck of Titanic
Maritime Memorial Act
Edward J. Smith (Captain)
Henry Tingle Wilde (Chief Officer)
William McMaster Murdoch
William McMaster Murdoch (First Officer)
Charles H. Lightoller (Second Officer)
Herbert Pitman (Third Officer)
Joseph G. Boxhall (Fourth Officer)
Harold G. Lowe (Fifth Officer)
James Paul Moody
James Paul Moody (Sixth Officer)
Joseph Bell (Machine Room Manager)
William Denton Cox
Alfred Frank Evans
John Jacob Astor IV
David John Bowen
Walter Donald Douglas
Edith Corse Evans
Sidney Leslie Goodwin
Charles Melville Hays
Edward Austin Kent
Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche
Francis Davis Millet
Harry Markland Molson
Eino Viljami Panula
W. T. Stead
John Borland Thayer Jr.
Frank M. Warren, Sr.
George Dennick Wick
George Dunton Widener
Harry Elkins Widener
George Henry Wright
Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson
Margaret "Molly" Brown
Helen Churchill Candee
Charlotte Drake Cardeza
Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon
Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon
Ethel Flora Fortune
Archibald Gracie IV
Frank John William Goldsmith
Henry S. Harper
Margaret Bechstein Hays
J. Bruce Ismay
Eleanor Ileen Johnson
Michel Marcel Navratil
Arthur Godfrey Peuchen
Marjorie Newell Robb
Noël Leslie, Countess of Rothes
Frederic Kimber Seward
Eloise Hughes Smith
Ella Holmes White
R. Norris Williams
Marie Grice Young
Memorials and monuments to the RMS Titanic
Engine Room Heroes (Liverpool)
Straus Park (New York City)
Titanic (New York City)
Titanic (Washington, D.C.)
Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain
Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain (Washington, D.C.)
Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan (1898)
A Night to Remember (book)
Saved from the Titanic
Saved from the Titanic (1912)
In Nacht und Eis
In Nacht und Eis (1912)
A Night to Remember (1958)
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)
Secrets of the Titanic (1986)
The Legend of the Titanic
The Legend of the Titanic (1999)
Titanic: The Legend Goes On (2000)
Ghosts of the Abyss
Ghosts of the Abyss (2003)
Titanic II (2010)
Titanic: The Complete Story (1994)
No Greater Love (1996)
"A Flight to Remember" (Futurama) (1999)
Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012)
Titanic (It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down)" (folk song)
The Sinking of the
Titanic (music composition)
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (musical)
"My Heart Will Go On" (Celine Dion song)
"Nearer, My God, to Thee" (song)
Titanic: Adventure Out of Time (1996)
Titanic: Honor and Glory (TBA)
SeaCity Museum (Southampton)
Titanic Museum (Branson, Missouri)
Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (Halifax)
Titanic Quarter, Belfast
Cape Race, Newfoundland
Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Mount Olivet Cemetery (Halifax)
White Star Line
Titanic Historical Society
Women and children first