Major modern art museum planned for Oxford Street


major new modern art museum is being planned for Oxford Street as the fights goes on against American sweet shops and business closures blighting the area.

Moco Museum wants to take over a sprawling 1920s building opposite Marble Arch for its third European gallery.

It would showcase work by artists such as Banksy, Tracey Emin, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst if planning permission is granted to transform 1 Marble Arch and 1 Great Cumberland Place into the attraction.

The company has argued it would “complement” the ‘Frameless’ Immersive Art space, the Wallace Collection and Serpentine gallery nearby, helping to turn the area famous for shopping into a must-visit destination for art lovers.

The building, at the top of Oxford Street, began being developed for shops and offices in 2020.

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Modern Contemporary Museum

/ Moco

But landlords, The Portman Estate, said it has had no offers from a retail company to take on the lower floors. Demand for office space has fallen across the capital.

“The development has been physically completed but the space at lower ground and ground floors has never been occupied,” The Portman Estate said in documents submitted to Westminster Council.

“This application comes forward in the context of a changing environment on Oxford Street, which is proving more challenging for traditional retail uses.

“Amid a backdrop of widespread vacancy and poor quality temporary occupiers dominating the western section of Oxford Street, the Estate recognises that now more than ever, Marble Arch is in need of a transformative anchor letting that will boost footfall and reinvigorate occupier confidence.”

Moco runs two other galleries in Europe. The first opened in Amsterdam in 2016, with Venus Williams among those praising its Banksy exhibition and describing it as “one of my favourite museums”.

A second venue launched in Barcelona in 2021 and Barak Obama and Steven Spielberg were among the tourists to view its Modern Masters show earlier this year.

Together the attractions see over a million visitors each year, most aged between 18 and 45, according to Moco.

If planning permission is granted, the London museum and gift shop would be the largest the company runs .

It comes after Westminster council launched plans to give rundown Oxford Street a facelift, reducing traffic and forcing out the cheap US-style sweet and souvenir shops.

It is hoped proposals for wider pavements, redesigned crossings and new trees for the mile running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch will bring well known brands back to the area following the closures of flagship stores such as Topshop and House of Fraser.

IKEA and HMV have already confirmed they will be opening shops in the street.

Plans for the Moco Museum will go before Westminster council later this year.

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