Renfrewshire Council

Paisley Museum image exterior

Paisley Museum Reimagined

Information on Paisley Museum, what's being done to transform the building, who's leading the redesign, what the benefits will be, and what's in Paisley's collections

Paisley Museum is being transformed into a world-class attraction housing the town's outstanding collections and bringing to the life the stories of its people, pattern, and much more, due to reopen in 2024.

The work is the flagship project within a wider investment in venues and outdoor spaces aimed at using Paisley's unique and internationally-significant cultural and heritage assets to transform the area's future.

When it reopens, the revamped museum will bring visitors into the town from throughout Scotland, the UK and abroad.

What's being built

The project will create the following: 

  • fully-accessible entrance courtyard and hall, creating a dynamic and inviting presence on the High Street and a contemporary face for the museum
  • external and internal repairs to preserve the architectural features of the A-listed main building and Coats Observatory, the oldest public observatory in Scotland
  • a new wing to the west of the existing building
  • an outdoor garden and new public space for the town, opening up previously-hidden views of the observatory
  • an expansion of the museum into the space formerly occupied by the old Paisley Central Library
  • capacity to double the number of objects from Paisley's internationally-significant collections which can go on show
  • internal renovations to make the buildings more accessible to all
  • café-restaurant and shop
  • dedicated learning spaces
  • a new heritage centre to study local history
  • interactive weaving studio, keeping alive our traditional textile skills;

Who is leading the redesign

The project is being led by a team based within OneRen, who will operate the reopened museum.

The building was redesigned by world-renowned architects AL_A - who have worked on landmark projects across the globe, including the V&A museum in London.

AL_A's founder - Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete - described the Paisley Museum Reimagined project as "one of the most radical briefs I have read....this is not only about finding the way to best show the museum's collection, it's also about showing the world how an ambitious cultural project can have a profound impact on a community and its identity."

The Paisley Museum Reimagined project is being co-designed in partnership with the local community and the project team have worked with hundreds of local people and groups to capture and help tell their stories.

How it is being funded

Around half of the £45m project cost is coming from Renfrewshire Council. The project is also being supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Scottish Government and its Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, as well as a number of other trusts, foundations and private donors.

The Paisley Museum Reimagined fundraising team are running the capital appeal to help fund the project and you can read more on their website.

What the benefits will be

The project is expected to deliver the following:

  • around 125,000 visitors a year and a £79m boost for the local economy over 30 years
  • 138 jobs supported during construction, and 48.5 jobs per year through revenue and visitor spending;
  • new footfall for the town centre, pulling people up the High Street, and bringing new trade into surrounding businesses;
  • Paisley's profile and story reaching a Scottish, UK and international stage, and a boost to the town's reputation, civic pride and self-confidence;

What's in Paisley Museum's collections

The museum was opened in 1871 and was designed by renowned Glasgow architect Sir John Honeyman. The building was gifted to the town by Sir Peter Coats of the Coats family, whose Paisley-based threadmaking empire stretched around the world, and whose family's largesse built much of the historic town centre still around us today.

Renfrewshire's collections are among the best in Scotland and include:

  • the world's largest collection of Paisley shawls and pattern books
  • artwork from the world-renowned Glasgow Boys
  • one of Scotland's best collections of studio ceramics
  • a unique offering of mediaeval manuscripts dating back to before the Reformation
  • a full volume of The Birds of America by John James Audubon - one of the most desirable and spectacular books ever produced
  • much-loved artefacts including Buddy - a stuffed lion and recognisable talking point for generations of visitors

Most of the collections are being stored and are available to be seen at Paisley: The Secret Collection - the first publicly-accessible museum store on a UK high street.