As its Cheetham Hill synagogue is doubled in size, the museum will create a two-year interactive library experience

It’s an exciting time for Manchester Jewish Museum. Over the next two years, its Grade II listed synagogue (built in 1874, and the oldest of its kind in Manchester) will be restored and repaired, while a massive two-storey extension will see the museum double in size. The ambitious transformation will cost £5 million -almost £3m of which comes via a National Lottery grant - with reopening planned for 2021. 

The only problem? It has to find somewhere to live in the meantime. Enter Central Library (its basement to be precise), where the Jewish Museum will create an interactive pop-up from Tuesday 16th. Here, an ‘object selection machine’ designed by artist Kirsty Harris will let visitors explore the museum’s collection; which spans a World War One policemen’s truncheon to a nineteenth century muff maker and a 1940s kosher ration book. 

2019 07 03 Prop Jewish
How the extended Jewish Museum will look
2019 07 08 Jewish Museum Truncheon
Items in the collection include a World War One policemen’s truncheon

Storytelling performances will bring these objects to life, while another innovative project - a ‘synagogue in a box’ - will allow school children visiting the library to create their own bespoke synagogues using arts and crafts. This will also be taken out to schools as part of the museum’s community outreach programme; additionally featuring food, music and storytelling activities at community centres, museums and libraries across Greater Manchester.

After a ceremonial launch evening with Sir Richard Leese, the pop-up Jewish Museum opens to the general public from Tuesday 16 July. Located on the lower ground floor of Central Library, it’ll be near the Children’s Library and next to the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre. Museum staff and volunteers will also be based in Central Library, as will the museum’s collection, which will be housed in the library’s archive store.

Central Library 2
The Jewish Museum will spend two years at Central Library

The musuem’s CEO Max Dunbar said: “We’re thrilled to be moving into such a busy and prestigious venue as Central Library. With over 1.5 million library users a year, we will be able to share the stories of Jewish Manchester with even more people, building up excitement ahead of our grand re-opening in 2021. We’re extremely grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Manchester City Council for making this move possible”. 

The pop-up Manchester Jewish Museum launches on Tuesday 16 July and will be open Mon-Thurs (9am-8pm) and Fri-Sat (9am-5pm). A full events programme will be announced soon 

The Manchester Jewish Museum extension

Planned for completion in 2021, the transformed Jewish Museum will span 4,900 extra square feet - helping to better showcase its 30,000-strong collection - and will include a new gallery, café, shop and learning studio.

Its historic home, a former Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, will also be restored to its original architectural splendour. Built in 1874 by Jewish textile merchants, the Grade II listed building was designed by local architect Edward Salomons in 1874 and is Manchester’s oldest synagogue.

Here’s the blurb…

In 2021 we will open a new Jewish Museum in Manchester. Inspired by stories of Jewish Manchester, it will be a museum like no other. Visitors will get to see rare and powerful objects, hear personal and extraordinary stories, cook and eat Jewish food and travel back in time to explore Manchester’s oldest surviving synagogue.

In today’s changing multicultural world we need this new museum more than ever. From stories of Holocaust Survivors to Middle Eastern refugees, the 30,000 items in our collection remind us what happens when people, politics and religion drive us apart – and how a city like Manchester can bring people together.

Our new museum, located on Cheetham Hill Road – ‘the most diverse street in the UK’ – will bring people of all faiths, backgrounds and ages together. From the stories we tell in our new gallery to the bagels we bake in our ‘Kitchen’ café, (it) will help create a brighter, more harmonious future; actively promoting the acceptance and understanding of all faiths and cultures

More details can be found here. While it now has the majority of funding secured, the project still needs £500,000. To donate, email Max Dunbar for more details: