A new gallery in an old space opens up fresh opportunities for key museum
Manchester's Science and Industry Museum has revealed its new £5m gallery within one of its heritage buildings.
The lower ground floor of the New Warehouse on the seven-acre site has been transformed into a functioning state-of-the-art gallery for special exhibitions. The New Warehouse was completed in 1882 as a part of a good stations complex across the site in Castlefield.
The splendid rhythm of mighty columns provides a symphony in cast-iron.
Cleaned, spruced-up and adapted for 21st-century museum work, the former space proves again how gloriously former industrial buildings can be re-invented. The combination of the local orange/red brick with blue Staffordshire bricks together with the mighty metalwork makes for a satisfying ensemble.
A £3.8m grant for the Science and Industry's new gallery
The 'outdoor welcome area' in the lower courtyard of the museum is particularly impressive. This is all down to the splendid rhythm of mighty columns, a symphony in cast-iron. The idea with this section of the museum is, in the fullness of time, to connect with the adjacent cultural space of The Factory which is under-construction and over-budget next door.
A new gallery is 725 square metres. The work has been completed with a £3.8m grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport plus additional support from other funders.
The architects were London-based Carmody Groarke, working alongside Manchester building contractor HH Smith & Sons.
The work to update the museum is vital
Director Sally MacDonald, said: “This year has brought home to all of us how fundamentally science shapes our lives. Our new Special Exhibitions Gallery will deliver a real step-change in increasing access to incredible science exhibitions and collections. It is the first project in our long-term multi-million-pound restoration programme to conserve our historic buildings, open up new spaces for all to enjoy, play and learn in and to generate vital skills opportunities to support our innovators of the future."
This 'multi-million-pound' work across the museum site is vital. Many of the museum's spaces have been underused, under-financed and in desperate need of attention in recent years. The museum's aspiration must be as a world-class museum destination. This fits with the world-class importance of the buildings on the site including the 1830 railway complex - the oldest such complex on the planet.
A top secret exhibition
The first exhibition in the new gallery will be 'Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security', curated by the Science Museum Group with the help of expert advisors, GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and cyber agency.
'Visitors will uncover the remarkable world of codebreaking, ciphers and secret communications by exploring over a century's worth of communications intelligence. From the First World War to the latest in cybersecurity, stories will be explored through hand-written documents, declassified files and artefacts from the Science Museum Group's and GCHQ's historic collections.' This is appropriate as GCHQ is set to open a new office at Heron House in Albert Square.
One last thing, the Science and Industry Museum is suffering from the same problem Manchester Central suffered. The latter is no longer G-Mex and this place is no longer MOSI but simply the Science and Industry Museum.
Follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter