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Caring for collections and preparing historic objects ahead of their move

The Science and Industry Museum has been working with specialists to prepare to move the historic collection of objects, including aircraft, from the Air and Space Hall.

The museum will vacate the lease on the building, which is owned by Manchester City Council, who are working with Allied London to develop proposals to repair and refurbish both Upper and Lower Campfield Markets.

The majority of the items in the Air and Space Hall were originally exhibited as Manchester City Council’s Air & Space Museum. They have since become part of the display for the Science and Industry Museum and now many of these historic objects, such as the RAF Museum’s Avro Shackleton, are being returned to our lenders with plans being made for their future display.  

Much of the collection will remain in the North West. Many of the well-loved objects from the Science Museum Group collections will continue to be shown in future displays. The 1905 Rolls-Royce motor car used by Henry Royce himself is now being exhibited in the Revolution Manchester gallery. The museum will continue to tell the story of aeronautics in the North West and items will be displayed in future to showcase the huge contribution the region has made in aviation history. There are also plans to explore Manchester’s rich transport heritage this year through half term programming. 

In order to move the objects of scale such as the planes, the museum is working closely with historic aircraft specialists to sensitively dismantle the aircraft into more manageable parts. The collection of motorcars also requires specialist handling and each vehicle needs a bespoke frame to be built for the under-carriage to enable a safe move, keeping the pressure off the wheels and tyres. Over time the rubber in tyres deteriorates, which is why the museum displays the vehicles raised slightly off the ground to help keep pressure off and conserve them. 

The conservation team at the museum has also been documenting all the objects and cleaning them ahead of their move. The logistics of getting the collection out of the building has required some temporary adaptation to the Grade II listed Lower Campfield Market building. This is to enable the move of large aircraft, such as the Avro Shackleton A.E.W.2 reconnaissance aircraft, which belongs to the RAF Museum. The plane will be relocated to Avro Heritage Museum in Woodford, which is where it was originally built in 1954, made by A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd, Woodford.  

Key stories such as how Manchester’s motor manufacturers have used progressive methods to produce some of the most iconic cars to have motored on our roads (including the Ford Model T) and around Manchester’s thrilling history of cycling innovation and triumphs (including bicycles dating from the 1800s) will also continue to be told in future displays at the museum.

You can read more about the conservation and processes from the team here