Revamp of Science museum underway

Michael Hunt

Construction on the £7m refurbishment of the Main Building at Manchester's Museum of Science & Industry has got underway.

The nine month project will see the former warehouse transformed to make better use of the available space and offer improved orientation for visitors.

As part of the redevelopment, a new gallery, known as Revolution Manchester, will be created on the ground floor. Revolution Manchester will display objects relating to the city's industrial and technological achievements, telling the story of Manchester's past, present and future.

Funding for the project has been confirmed from the European Regional Development Fund, which granted £2m, the North West Development Agency, which granted £2m, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Garfield Weston, SITA, and a number of other trusts and foundations.

The work includes the removal of the metal ramps cutting through the 130-year-old building, which takes up over 10,000 sq ft 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.

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 Experiment gallery 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 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 North West."

The project is the first phase of Revolution MOSI, the museum's 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 which is 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.

The Museum of Science & Industry construction team includes:

  • Drivers Jonas – project management
  • Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams – architects
  • Gifford – structural engineers
  • Silcock Leedham – mechanical and electrical
  • Turner and Sons – main contractors
  • Simon Fenton Partnership – quantity surveyors
  • Redman Design – gallery design
  • Blueprint – restaurant/kitchen

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