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By Sally MacDonald on

The power to remake the world

At our museum we’re incredibly lucky. Not only are we the caretakers of some amazing objects but of several unique buildings too.

This presents some unusual challenges, such as how to make buildings originally designed as viaducts and warehouses work both as historic artefacts and as practical museum spaces. Sensitive re-use and restoration is never simple or cheap!

Despite this we have really ambitious plans for our site, and this week we’ve announced that we’ll be spending over £6 million on a programme of investment in museum buildings. This includes restoring the New Warehouse, the 1830 Warehouse and–most urgently–the Power Hall.

The Power Hall is the oldest and one of the best-loved of our galleries, but for some years now we haven’t been able to show it at its best. In April this year we had to close it so that our team could carry out urgent repairs. Now, thanks to a generous grant of £6 million from DCMS, we’ll be able to do much more. We’ll be completely replacing the roof, getting the steam engines up and running again and, most excitingly, reinterpreting the gallery to show how steam power changed Manchester and the world.

Visitors to the gallery will hear the stories of the people who built the amazing engines at the heart of this story, how they cared for them and kept them running, adjusting them to improve their productivity over decades. Operating historic machinery demands great skill, and we’ll be opening up our workshop areas so that visitors can see our team working on the exhibits. Finally the gallery will provide a wonderful, sensory experience, amid the noise and smells of working machinery.

The restoration involves a whole team of people and some serious building work, so the gallery is going to have to be closed for a while. In the meantime we’ll be running a huge range of exciting programmes and keeping you updated with blogs, videos and stories from our team, so you’ll be able to see the incredible variety of behind-the-scenes work needed to create a new gallery. Watch this space!

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