Oxford Street is one of London’s most famous shopping destinations, but it could also be a new mecca for modern art – if Moco Museum has its way.
According to the Evening Standard, the major art museum is eying up a vast 1920s building opposite Marble Arch as the potential site for its third European gallery. Moco specialises in modern and contemporary artworks, showcasing works by the likes of Banksy, Tracey Emin, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst.
Oxford Street has struggled with vacant stores in recent years. Topshop’s colossal 100,000 sq ft Oxford Circus flagship store closed in 2021 following the implosion of the Arcadia Group – the space will reopen to the public this autumn as IKEA Oxford Street – and the pandemic shuttered many retailers. Another significant departure was the House of Fraser in January 2022, after 100 years at its Oxford Street site.
The ‘Oxford Street Art House’ would take over the entire building. Westminster’s Labour councillors are suggesting that the store’s basement could become maker spaces, the ground floor would be a shop and a new home for Marylebone public library, and the remaining five floors would be gallery spaces, including fashion, photography and movie galleries. On top of that, there would be a roof garden, and loads of cafés.
It sounds ace, and much more fun than a big store full of bedding and squash racquets. There is a precedent as well. A huge empty office block at 180 The Strand was converted into a fantastic art space back in 2016. In that case, there’s no doubt that the repurposing of the building and its location have greatly contributed to its atmosphere and the impact of the work it shows. With Oxford Street and the surrounding area currently undergoing a £150 million regeneration scheme, it would be great to get a bit of the old art and culture in there. And a roof garden, of course.