The significant investment by the Trust's Capital Awards scheme will allow the museum to convert its 1830 buildings - a collection of three structures that includes the first ever railway warehouse and the oldest surviving passenger station - into a venue for world-class exhibitions that will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. It will showcase the very best contemporary science exhibitions, affirming Manchester’s growing reputation as a city of science.
With over 90% of the project now funded, the museum will commence its search in May for a design team with the imagination to create a gallery that meets the potential of the space. It is anticipated this new space will continue to build on the success of more adult-oriented exhibitions at the museum. Over 100,000 people visited the museum’s Brains exhibition, a collaboration with Wellcome Collection in 2013, highlighting the appetite for bold science programming in the region. The new gallery aims to be an additional hub for other Wellcome Collection exhibitions in future, as well as having the space to develop and provide more biomedical content for the museum’s visitors.
This new exhibition space will shift the centre of gravity of the Science Museum Group towards the north and enable the Museum of Science & Industry to develop its own touring exhibitions from Manchester, which will go on to tour to London and worldwide. Forecast to open in 2018, the brand new gallery will breathe life into the lower end of the museum’s historic site, enticing the 700,000-plus annual visitors to explore both the science and the extraordinary heritage on offer at the Museum of Science & Industry.
The announcement comes months after the Treasury pledged £3.8 million towards this new space and its subsequent commitment to prioritising science investment in the North West.
Museum of Science & Industry Director Sally MacDonald said: "We are thrilled! This support from the Wellcome Trust means we can realise our ambition to become the northern home for cutting-edge, interactive contemporary science exhibitions, to inspire the scientists and inventors of tomorrow. We will be working closely with the Trust and other partners to create exhibitions that will launch in Manchester and then tour internationally, showcasing our collections, our historic site and the city’s vibrant scientific research."
Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said: "This is such a coup for both the museum and the city. Building a brand new gallery for contemporary science in the vaults of one of the most important and historic buildings in Manchester is such a fantastic way of showing how much the city has contributed, and continues to contribute, to science nationally and globally. Manchester is currently European City of Science and this new gallery will further enhance our reputation for putting science at the heart of our cultural life."
Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture & Society at the Wellcome Trust, added: "The Museum of Science & Industry has long championed the creativity of science, consistently putting on exhibitions and events that inspire and engage the public – whether they are from the north-west or much further afield. We are therefore delighted to be able to support the development of this exciting new exhibition space, continuing our relationship with MOSI, and helping to bring world-class science exhibitions to Manchester and beyond."