Olympics move in to London's museums
The city's cultural institutions and heritage sites to be transformed into national houses for the games
By Martin Bailey. Web only
Published online: 23 December 2010
LONDON. Museums and heritage sites are leasing out space during the 2012 Olympics for national houses, including the Docklands Museum, Somerset House, Marble Arch, Old Billingsgate Market and Alexandra Palace. The two-month deals will typically each bring in several hundred thousand pounds.
National houses are set up during the Olympics to provide VIP entertainment space, a venue for events for medal-winners, media facilities and office accommodation. Only a handful of deals have been confirmed, but 30 or so countries are likely to set up luxurious camps in London.
Docklands Museum in East London, part of the Museum of London, where the major games events will be held, is the first national house to be arranged and will become the German Haus. The museum will remain open to visitors, but the converted sugar warehouse is large enough to lease considerable space. In addition to the cash rent, the German National Olympic Committee will fund improvements to the building, providing a lasting legacy.
Somerset House is to become Casa Brazil. The courtyard level will remain open to the public but the whole of the 18th-century piano nobile, which overlooks the River Thames, will be taken over. The Embankment Galleries will host an exhibition on Brazilian design. The courtyard will be the venue for a spectacular party at the end of the London Olympics, when Brazil takes over as host for the Rio games in 2016.
Russia is negotiating with Westminster City Council to build a temporary pavilion at Marble Arch (the arch itself is owned by English Heritage). The Maison de France will be in Old Billingsgate, a former fish market in the City of London. The Holland Heineken House, sponsored by the beer company, will be in Alexandra Palace, a Victorian entertainment centre.
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