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A New Home for a Priceless British Museum Collection

The Sir Percival David Collection in the Sir Joseph Hotung Centre
for Ceramic Studies, British Museum

London, UK

The British Museum appointed HOK to design a new gallery to house the Sir Percival David Collection of Chinese ceramics.

Previously displayed at the University of London in Gordon Square, this collection is widely regarded as one of the most important collections of Chinese ceramics outside of mainland China.

Working with the museum’s exhibition designers to develop the brief, the design team transformed a storage space into the gallery and provided a new library for post-graduate students.

The gallery is designed to be subservient to the museum’s 1,700 exhibits. The restrained materials palette includes oak strip boarding, relief walls of black Chinese granite and gypsum ceilings with integrated service troughs.

Both the layout of the gallery and the lighting strategy reflect the museum’s desire for an intimate, uncluttered, welcoming space. Visitors can easily navigate the space and focus on the exhibits.

HOK’s exhibition design team and mechanical, electrical and structural engineers prepared construction documentation and obtained all relevant statutory approvals.


700 sq. ft. / 65 sq. m.


Construction Administration


Percentage of visitors who said they would recommend the gallery to a friend, according to a British Museum survey


Median dwell time, in seconds, for this gallery, compared to the overall museum gallery average of 174 seconds


Percentage of visitors surveyed who reported an emotional or spiritual response to the collection — the highest level of emotional response measured in the British Museum’s galleries