The Imperial War Museum's London branch will close its doors to visitors for the first half of 2013 if Southwark Council gives the go-ahead for alterations to the historic building.
The museum, which now prefers to be known as IWM, has submitted applications for planning permission and listed building consent to Southwark Council for the first phase of its long-term masterplan for the building drawn up by architects Foster & Partners.
Phase 1 is due for completion in time to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in 2014.
"We are excited by this unique opportunity to reinvigorate our flagship branch, IWM London, which last saw significant investment in the late 1980s," says IWM's director-general Diane Lees.
"The centenary of the First World War from 2014 to 2018 will be a landmark event for Britain and the world. IWM was founded during the First World War as a lasting memorial to all those who played their part in the conflict.
"Our brand new galleries will allow us to continue this work in the 21st century, helping to keep the history and personal recollections of the war alive for future generations."
The new layout will allow the museum to display much more of its First World War collection and will include extra gallery space for exhibitions about contemporary conflicts.
Plans for a new cafe on the western side of the building spilling out onto Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, have already attracted an objection from Waterloo Community Development Group which fears the public green space will be eroded by commercial activity.
IWM is currently fundraising for the £35 million project and to date has secured over half of the funds required. The remaining funds are being sought from a variety of sources including donations from major philanthropists, trusts and foundations, corporate partners, the Friends of IWM and the public.
• Find out more about the Transforming IWM London project.