Purcell win approval for Manchester Museum expansion

The work undertaken will vastly improve the museum for visitors including older visitors and people with a disability. We hope those who have been before enjoy the new experience, and we hope the redesign encourages many newcomers to visit
– Laura Sherliker, Purcell associate

Architecture firm Purcell will create an extension to the historic home of the University of Manchester - Manchester Museum, after winning planning and listed building consent last week.

The design team have imagined a contemporary new entrance and two new galleries, which will double the capacity of the museum – part of a wider development plan as it seeks “to become the UK’s most imaginative, inclusive and caring museum.”

Purcell have been tasked with enhancing the visibility and accessibility of the attraction, which exhibits the University of Manchester's collections of natural history, palaeontology and archaeology. Their plans include the addition of illuminated signage and a striking metal canopy that will announce the museum’s new street-facing entrance on Bridgeford Street, where more footfall is anticipated.

The interior design will unify the museum’s internal arrangement to ease the visitor journey and improve navigation within the complex as a whole. Signage, lighting and materials have been carefully considered in order to promote the museum as a “sector-leading exemplar of age-, disability- and dementia-friendly design.”

The two new exhibition spaces – the South Asia Gallery and a Special Exhibition Gallery – will be housed in a textured enclosure of terracotta, natural stone and curtain glazing that complements the surrounding vernacular of Grade II and II* listed buildings, while adding a modern layer to the historic fabric.

The latter, a 450sq m (4,800sq ft) venue, will transform the museum’s ability to produce, host and tour internationally-significant shows, taking advantage of the research taking place at the University of Manchester.

The South Asia Gallery, meanwhile, will be run in partnership with the British Museum and focus on the history and culture of the region and its relationship with the North West. The 300sq m (3,200sq ft) space will combine sculptures, textiles and other materials from the British Museum with the Manchester Museum’s own collections.

“The extension and reconfiguration bring the museum up to contemporary requirements and provides exciting new gallery spaces,” said project lead Laura Sherliker, an associate at Purcell.

“The work undertaken will vastly improve the museum for visitors including older visitors and people with a disability. We hope those who have been before enjoy the new experience, and we hope the redesign encourages many newcomers to visit.”

Diana Hampson, director of Estates and Facilities at the university, added: “The Manchester Museum Courtyard project will create an exceptional new environment for museum visitors, including a space for international touring shows.

“This scheme forms a key part of The University of Manchester’s Campus Masterplan, creating world-class facilities and attractions on our estate for staff, students and members of the public.”

The £12.7m (US$17.1m, €14.4m) project will be partly funded by a £4.2m (US$5.6m, €4.7m) National Lottery grant. The new galleries are expected to open to the public in Q3 2020.

Purcell have previously completed restorations of Kensington Palace, Tower Bridge and the National Maritime Museum, and their team include architects, designers, heritage and specialist consultants.

They are currently working with architect Jamie Fobert on the high-profile transformation of London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Purcell  University of Manchester  Manchester Museum  British Museum  Laura Sherliker  Diana Hampson 
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Architecture firm Purcell will create an extension to the historic home of the University of Manchester - Manchester Museum, after winning planning and listed building consent last week. The design team have imagined a contemporary new entrance and two new galleries, which will double the capacity of the museum – part of a wider development plan as it seeks “to become the UK’s most imaginative, inclusive and caring museum.” Purcell
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The design team have designed a contemporary new entrance and two new galleries, which will double the capacity of the museum / Purcell
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