Construction work has started on a £7 million refurbishment of the Main Building at MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) in Manchester.
The nine month project will see the historic former warehouse transformed to make better use of the available space and offer improved orientation for visitors. As part of the redevelopment, a stunning new Revolution Manchester gallery will be created on the ground floor. Revolution Manchester will display iconic objects relating to the city’s industrial and technological achievements, telling the story of Manchester past, present and future.
Museum Director, Steve Davies MBE, said: “MOSI is located on the site of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station, dating back to 1830 and currently attracts more than 700,000 visitors per year.
“However, although the Main Building is a wonderful example of the city’s industrial heritage, it was designed as a warehouse rather than a museum. As MOSI’s reputation grows, we now need to make better use of the space we have available to enable us to become a truly world-class cultural attraction, aiming for the magic one million visitors mark,” he added.
Funding for the project has been confirmed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which granted £2 million, the NWDA which granted £2 million, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Garfield Weston, SITA, and a number of other trusts and foundations.
The work will include the removal of the metal ramps which cut through the heart of the 130-year-old building, taking up over 1,000 m2 of space. The internal stairwells and lifts will also be moved onto the outside wall, freeing up more space inside the building.
A new main entrance will take visitors straight into the orientation area, rather than through the coffee shop as at present. They will then walk into the Revolution Manchester gallery where some of Manchester’s leading inventions and objects will be on display, acting as an orientation point between the museum’s various galleries. It will also provide a focal point for MOSI’s work with Industrial Powerhouse, which celebrates the North West’s rich industrial heritage through a range of attractions, events and trails.
The restaurant and conferencing suite will be moved to the front of the building, on the first and second floors respectively, with larger kitchens and better facilities to cater for increased visitor numbers and conferencing guests.
The popular hands-on Experiment gallery, which currently attracts thousands of children every year, will be expanded and moved from the second floor to the first floor, with its own dedicated space, complete with toilets, lockers and picnic areas.
Four new classrooms will be constructed to further develop the museum’s educational programme which already benefits a total of 100,000 schoolchildren every year.
The boiler, which powers the museum’s historic collection of working steam engines in the Power Hall will be moved from its current home in the basement of the Main Building, to make way for the construction work. Extra toilets and lockers will be installed in the basement.
Nick Brooks-Sykes, Director of Tourism at the NWDA, said: “The museum is already an excellent attraction but has huge promise to develop and to get more visitors through the doors. This level of investment seizes on that potential and will provide the sort of high quality visitor experience which will help the museum reach the figure of 1 million visitors. I am pleased that the NWDA and ERDF have been able to support such an ambitious project which will increase the museum’s contribution to the regional economy and further cement the museum’s position as a flagship tourism attraction in the Northwest.”
Councillor Val Stevens, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council and member of the ERDF monitoring committee, said: “Manchester increasingly has a world-class range of cultural attractions and there’s no doubt that these improvements to MOSI will further add to its appeal. MOSI is already an outstanding museum but this funding should enable it to build on its achievements and take it’s deserved place on the world stage.”
David Shatwell, Director of the Manchester-based architects firm, Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams, which is working on the project said: “This is a fabulous opportunity to improve the visitor experience creating a stunning first impression for visitors and a clear new orientation space. By opening up many sections of the historic warehouse, we are expressing its true scale and architectural character, while providing a highly appropriate setting to a wide range of exhibits.”
The project is the first phase of Revolution MOSI, the museum’s ambitious development plan, which will eventually include the redevelopment of the Air & Space Hall on Lower Byrom Street and a new Road Transport Gallery in Upper Campfield Market on Liverpool Road.”
The ERDF programme is backed by the Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) – a group of senior representatives from across the region. The Group was formed to monitor, oversee and advise on the delivery of the programme and proved invaluable to the development of the new fund.
Source: Northwest Regional Development Agency