CHANCELLOR George Osborne has announced a £5 million investment in Manchester Museum following a manifesto commitment.

Manchester Museum currently boasts a collection of 4.5 million items

Drawing on some of the best of the British Museum’s national collections, a permanent South Asia gallery will form the centrepiece of an £11.5 million expansion; including a new entrance, larger temporary exhibition space and increased public facilities.

Since almost 9% of Greater Manchester is of South Asian origin - owing to strong textile links with the Indian subcontinent - the gallery is expected to engage not only tourists but local communities, who will play a crucial role in its development. Bringing the British Museum’s collection to northern England will also address the region’s underrepresentation of South Asian history and culture and open new dialogues with the public.

Manchester Museum currently boasts a collection of 4.5 million items from every continent; including archaeology, anthropology and natural history. As the UK’s largest university museum, it attracts around 430,000 visitors each year to its cluster of neo-Gothic buildings on Oxford Road.

T. Rex in Manchester MuseumT. Rex in Manchester Museum

Director Dr Nick Merriman said: “I am delighted that the Chancellor has announced this funding. It means that, with a commitment from the University, we have already raised over 50% of the funding needed to deliver the facilities we need for the Manchester Museum to engage with larger and broader audiences. The South Asia gallery will be a great draw for local residents and tourists alike, and is the natural outcome of our partnership work with the British Museum, which has been developing for more than a decade.”

Neil MacGregor, British Museum Direcor, said: “We are delighted that the Chancellor has recognised the important role that museums and galleries play in the life of the UK and to Britain’s role in the world. The South Asia gallery at Manchester Museum is the latest in a series of partnership galleries which the British Museum has undertaken with key UK partners. The £5 million announced by the Chancellor is a significant investment which will benefit local and national and global audiences alike.”

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