The museum says it is committed to becoming an ever more powerful source of inspiration for learning for more people and the transformation, driven by social purpose, will make the museum more relevant and welcoming to all ages and communities.

In 2015 the Treasury pledged £5m towards the South Asia Gallery, part of the overall project, and the museum predicts the extension will result in hundreds of thousands of new visitors, including an additional 11,000 school children each year.

“With new world-class spaces for extraordinary objects and stories, more volunteering opportunities and imaginative partnerships, Manchester Museum will reflect and explore the needs, interests and opportunities of the diverse communities we serve,” said new director, Esme Ward. “The project will develop and transform the museum to bring more wonder and inspiration from around the world to the people of Greater Manchester and beyond.”

Work will start in August 2018 and the finished building will reopen in late 2020.

The transformation will include:

  • A major new Temporary Exhibitions Gallery enabling the museum to become the North of England’s leading venue for producing and hosting international-quality exhibitions on human cultures and the natural world. The 451 m2 space will be a new home for blockbuster and international shows, drawing visitors from across the North of England who previously would have had to travel to London to see shows of such scale.
  • The North of England’s first large-scale gallery of South Asian history and culture, created in partnership with the British Museum, bringing together the very best of Manchester Museum’s own South Asian collections and world-class sculpture, textiles and artefacts from the British Museum. It will be the UK’s first permanent gallery to explore the stories, experiences and contributions of diaspora communities. At the heart of the gallery will be a unique performance space, dedicated to showing the very best live music, dance and performance from and inspired by South Asia.
  • A new Oxford Road-facing entrance, welcome area and shop, to create a more visible and welcoming first impression. Throughout, particular emphasis will be placed on accessible design for older visitors and people with a disability.
  • Underpinning the transformation, there will be a dynamic co-created participatory programme to imaginatively address some of the key issues of our time; climate change, ageing, migration and belonging. This will extend the museum’s award-winning volunteering work and be pivotal to changing how we work with and reach new audiences.
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