The 8,000 sq ft gallery is located on the lower ground floor of the Science and Industry Museum’s grade two-listed New Warehouse.
Funded largely by a £3.8m grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the £5m project is the first element of long-term strategy by the museum – known as Mosi – to restore its historic estate.
Designed by architectural practice Carmody Groarke, work to create the Special Exhibitions Gallery was carried out by contractor HH Smith & Sons.
Mosi director Sally MacDonald said: “This year has brought home to all of us how fundamentally science shapes our lives. As we all rebuild personally, socially and culturally, and look forward to better things in 2021, we can’t wait to share this new exhibition space.”
The New Warehouse was built in 1882 to provide storage for the Great Western Railway and was also used as storage space by the museum prior to the gallery project.
The project aimed to revitalise the space by enhancing historic features such as the brick “jack arch” ceilings, and enable the museum to display larger collection items and provide a better visitor experience.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The impact of this transformational project on our city will be immediate. The new experiences that this gallery will bring will be integral to the cultural and skills recovery of our city through science, arts, technology and innovation for everyone.”
The inaugural exhibition hosted in the Science and Industry Museum’s new Special Exhibition Gallery will be Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security, curated by the Science Museum Group with the help of expert advisors, GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and cyber agency.