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Science and Industry Museum

New look for Textiles Gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry

Textiles Gallery refresh - artist's impression

For immediate release

The historic Textiles Gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry is to receive a facelift ahead of summer—meaning there will be more objects on display and better hands-on activities than ever before. 

The gallery will paint a vivid picture of how cotton transformed Manchester into a city like nothing the world had ever seen before, populated by ingenious makers and determined profit seekers, spinning and weaving cloth to sell around the globe. In this sprawling, swarming, rain-soaked city of extreme wealth and poverty, the cotton industry reshaped the lives of Manchester people, creating a new kind of urban community. 

Among the new objects on display are a pair of child sized clogs from Charter Street Ragged School. These clogs were lent to children too poor to afford their own shoes—but had to be stamped with instructions not to be pawned, as poverty meant that families would consider swapping their borrowed shoes for a hot meal. There are also coins that were hidden in the roof of a cotton mill during construction as a lucky charm to bring prosperity, and a 180-year old cotton day dress made at the peak of Manchester’s industrial transformation. 

Much-loved objects from the gallery’s current form, such as Richard Arkwright’s incredible Water Frame that revolutionised cotton production, will be redisplayed in a way that will increase visitors’ enjoyment, and the ever-popular Explainer shows among the working mill machinery have been updated to give an even deeper and more exciting insight into the birth of the industrial revolution. 

As well as new interactive displays, the gallery will include a conversation space where visitors will be able to try hands-on activities, get up close with unusual objects and have their say in upcoming projects in the gallery. 
The museum team have been working with award-winning designers Nissen Richards Studio to create the new look for the gallery. 

In order for the work to take place, the gallery will be closed for five days from 21 May, reopening temporarily for half term so visitors can continue to enjoy textiles demonstrations throughout the holidays. Work will commence in earnest on 4 June before the refreshed gallery re-opens at the end of July.

During the temporary closure, weaving workshops and textiles talks will take place in the Revolution Manchester gallery, adjacent to the Textiles Gallery.

The Textiles Gallery is in the museum’s Great Western Warehouse, a Grade II listed building that dates back to 1880, and was one of the original buildings of the goods station site that surrounded Liverpool Road Station, which was in turn the terminus of the world’s first inter-city passenger railway. 

The makeover is part of an ambitious programme of work in the run-up to the unique site’s 200th anniversary in 2030, which will reveal the fascinating stories of the museum site and its role in the development of Manchester and the industrial world. 

Notes to editors

For more information or images, please contact Kat Harrison-Dibbits, Press and PR Manager at the Museum of Science and Industry on 0161 606 0176 or email kat.dibbits@msimanchester.org.uk

About the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global, industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world. From textiles to computers, the objects and documents held in the museum’s collection tell stories of everyday life over the last 200 years, from light bulbs to locomotives.  The museum’s mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond. 

The Museum of Science and Industry is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With 5 million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.