Teams from Bovis Lend Lease, Heery and Mace are understood to have received bid documents last week for the scheme to add a further 10,000 sq m to the museum in Bloomsbury, central London.
The scheme has been designed by leading architectural practice Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and is intended to allow more of the museum’s collection to be displayed at any one time.
In recent years the popularity of shows at the museum has outstripped capacity with visitors forced to queue up early in the morning in order to secure tickets for a recent display of the Chinese Terracotta Army exhibition. Demand for the show led staff to keep the museum open until midnight.
The works are expected to be delivered over two phases and alongside display space the winning team will take charge of building care facilities, conservation laboratories, storage and office space.
The last major construction project at the museum was the development of the Great Court in 2000 which was managed by Mace. Bid insiders suggested that competition for the new work would be keen.
One source said: “You look at the firms that are supposed to be bidding this and they all have experience that suits the job.
“You could pick reasons why any one of them could be favourite but the truth is it could go any way.”
A spokeswoman for the museum said it could not reveal any details about the bidding for the contract but said that a planning application was expected to be submitted for the scheme in the summer. She added that work was expected to be completed by 2011/12.