Library, Westminster

In its young life the building that is the site for this project would have witnessed the birth of enlightenment thinking that would come to have so much influence on the culture and institutions of today’s world. The modern library and museum owe their existence to the intellectual curiosity of the natural philosophers of the eighteenth century. These philosophers lived and worked among collections of writing, of art and of all manner of natural and artificial curiosities, collected for scientific observation, classification and theoretical speculation.

Their rationalist researches were radical and dangerous to the adherents of biblical certainties; their studies in archaeology and anthropology would find fruit later in religious and racial tolerance. Their prototype museums and libraries were laboratories and cauldrons for the radical liberal rationalist thinking that would shape and colour the culture and civilisation of the western world.