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Manchester Museum Reopens After Major £15m Renovation Work

Matt Crisp February 27, 2023

The Manchester Museum reopened in February after a £15 million renovation to add a new exhibition space and refurbished galleries. The museum has a collection of about 4.5 million objects, with particular strengths in the Graeco-Roman period. There is a new South Asia Gallery, and a new temporary exhibition titled ‘Golden Mummies of Egypt.’

Manchester Museum is sited on Oxford Road in the heart of the university district, and is one of the largest university museums in the UK. The neo-Gothic building was designed by the celebrated architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905). It is renowned for the size and breadth of its collection, with a strong pan-cultural focus. 

Esme Ward, the director of Manchester Museum, said: “We have extended the building, making room for more joy and learning and evolving into the museum that Manchester needs.”

She added: “Beautiful new galleries and exhibitions will showcase the best of the museum’s historic collections, as well as addressing the urgencies of the present day and highlighting the complexities of our world. We have also listened to advocates with lived experience, and inclusive new spaces and features are incorporated throughout.”

The museum includes a new dinosaur gallery which aims to highlight the work carried out by palaeontologists. There is also a new South Asia Gallery which was created in collaboration with the British Museum. 

Nusrat Ahmed, South Asia Gallery curator at Manchester Museum, said: “The co-curated South Asia Gallery envisages a collaborative, iterative space that will generate new perspectives and connections. We hope to engage further diaspora communities on its opening and support its continual evolution.”

“This personalised approach humanises the gallery, telling stories about real people and their objects.” The exhibition contains about 140 historic objects as well as contemporary pieces, and is organised into six distinct sections to help link and strengthen the themes. 

British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said: “It was very demanding for the 30 individuals in the South Asia Gallery Collective who had to figure out together what this gallery was going to be. That in itself was like a process of community building.”

He added: “They had lots of decision-making power but were also keen to work with the curators. So what you see has grown out of that dynamic as a collective, working with curators but also architects and graphic designers to produce what I think is a very beautiful, inspiring and thought-provoking gallery.”

The other current exhibition is the Dab Hands collection by artist in residence Lucy Burscough and partners. This is a celebration of the unique relationship that humans have with their hands, and all the myriad and incredible ways we have learnt to use them over the centuries. 

The museum is free to visit and open everyday except Mondays. For popular events and exhibitions, it is worth booking tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. 

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