Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Courtyard Project. The project will transform the Museum with a major two-storey extension, a new main entrance, and much-improved visitor facilities inspired by a new ethos of a ‘museum for life.’
Work will commence in May 2018 and the finished building will reopen in early 2020. Development funding of £406,400 has been awarded to help Manchester Museum progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.
The Courtyard extension will create a major new Temporary Exhibitions Gallery, providing almost three times as much space as the Museum currently has for temporary and touring shows. The new facility will enable the Museum to become one of the North of England’s leading venues for producing and hosting international-quality exhibitions on human cultures and the natural world.
In addition, a permanent South Asia Gallery will be created in a landmark 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, the Gallery will explore the history and culture of South Asia and its relationship with communities in the North West of England.
Wide ranging improvements to visitor facilities – including a new street-facing entrance to create a much more visible and welcoming first impression – will enrich the experience and comfort of all. Particular emphasis will be placed on accessible design for older visitors and people with a disability.
The Courtyard Project aims to redefine the social purpose of the Museum. Inspired by the idea of a ‘museum for life’, it will place health, wellbeing and social inclusion at the very forefront of the Museum’s role. Physical improvements will be accompanied by greatly enhanced opportunities in education and public engagement, supported by 120 new, trained volunteers.
The total cost of the Courtyard Project is expected to be £12.4million. News of HLF support marks the second major commitment to the scheme, following a Treasury announcement of £5million towards the South Asia Gallery in November 2015.
Dr Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum, said, ‘We are thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. Manchester Museum has been delighting, inspiring and educating our visitors for over 125 years. The Courtyard Project will enable us to realise our potential on a national and international stage, whilst strengthening our commitment to our local communities. Through these measures, more people than ever before will be able to experience our world class collections.’