Mcr Jewish Museum April 2021
Image credit: Chris Payne

Museum overhaul nears completion

Neil Tague

Manchester Jewish Museum is to reopen on 2 July, following the completion of its £6m redesign and extension project.

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a £3m grant, the project has been a two-year job, and the re-presented museum will feature a gallery, café, shop and learning studio and kitchen as well as the restoration of its 1874 Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in the city.

The lead architect for the scheme is Citizens Design Bureau. HH Smith is the main contractor, with the professional team including Buro Happold, Smithers Purslow, Appleyard & True, Brittain & Co and Flick Harris. All Things Studio is responsible for exhibition design

The synagogue and museum have been closed to the public since July 2019 to as a two-storey extension adding 4,900 sq ft to the musrum was added. Sustainable features have been integrated into both the new and the original museum buildings.

Located in Cheetham Hill, MJM aims to “explore and share Jewish stories of migration, communities and identities to make universal connections and to bring people together”.

As well as its new exhibition space and restored synagogue, the museum will launch a season of events and activities from the summer, including a collaboration with Manchester International Festival.

The museum will house more than 31,000 eclectic objects from personal letters and photographs, many of them going on display for the first time.

In recent years, exhibitions hosted by the museum included one dedicated to the career of Sir Howard Bernstein following his departure from Manchester City Council in 2017.

Max Dunbar, chief executive of Manchester Jewish Museum, said: “After years of planning, fundraising and consultations, plus a global pandemic to navigate through, we cannot believe we are finally here, ready to show the city and the world our beautiful museum.

“We really feel we have something special and unique to share with everyone. Our magnificently restored synagogue is a rare gem. It will sit alongside our contemporary extension, the design of which has been inspired by our synagogue’s stunning Moorish architecture.”

Mcr Jewish Museum 2 Apr 21

Image credit: Chris Payne

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