HH Smith & Sons has started work at Manchester’s Science & Industry Museum, to build a 7,500 sq ft special exhibitions gallery designed by Carmody Groarke.
The project will see the lower ground floor of the grade two-listed New Warehouse refurbished and opened to the public next year.
The red-brick New Warehouse was built in 1882 to provide storage for the Great Western Railway, and until recently was used as a museum store.
The £5m gallery extension is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Zochonis Charitable Trust, with further support from the DCMS, Kirby Laing Foundation and Friends of the Museum of Science & Industry.
Previously, the gallery was proposed for below the railway viaduct within the grade one-listed 1830s warehouse complex.
The project was due to open in 2018 but work never began. A decision was made to relocate the scheme after reviewing the Science & Industry Museum’s masterplan and the condition of the existing viaduct.
Sally MacDonald, director of the Science & Industry Museum, said: “This new gallery will originate and host some of the world’s best science exhibitions and help establish the Science and Industry Museum as a beacon for contemporary science and major cultural destination in the coming years.
“In revealing this incredible new space, we can’t wait to inspire visitors year-round with more ideas that have changed the world and start to open up new areas of our globally important site’.
The new gallery is intended to allow better access to display large collection items, and provide a ‘blank canvas’ space for touring exhibitions. The project includes a reception area, shop, and a fully-accessible outdoor welcome area in the lower courtyard of the museum.
The first exhibition in the space is due to be ‘ Top Secret’, a joint exhibition between the Science Museum Group and GCHQ, exhibiting communications intelligence from the First World War to the latest in cyber security. GCHQ recently located its Manchester base to Heron House off Albert Square.
The museum’s Power Hall is also undergoing restoration and is due to reopen in 2021.