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Museum director Sally MacDonald awarded OBE in 2024 King's Birthday Honours list

Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, has been awarded an OBE for services to the arts and heritage in the 2024 King's Birthday Honours list.

Sally, who grew up in Withington, Manchester, has led the museum for the last ten years, securing over £40 million to date to spearhead the repair and regeneration of its globally significant site for everyone who lives in and visits the city.  

Sally says: 

'It's a great recognition of the wonderful work of everyone at the museum and all our partners across the city and beyond. We are all passionate about the role that museums and heritage can play in inspiring the next generation of innovators and creating opportunities for young people to realise the future ideas that will change the world.' 

Sally is leading the creation of a more sustainable museum (revealing new spaces and perspectives for visitors to enjoy), alongside its strong reputation for innovative programming including major special exhibitions and the biennial Manchester Science Festival.   

The Science and Industry Museum explores ideas that change the world and includes the world's oldest surviving passenger railway station and the world's first railway goods warehouse in the heart of the world's first industrial city, alive with science and innovation today.  

Together with the award-winning Special Exhibitions Gallery (which opened in 2021 and originates and hosts some of the world’s best science experiences,) the restoration of the Station Agent's House with Landmark Trust, the site's ambitious decarbonisation work and the reopening of the Power Hall next year, future plans under Sally's leadership include a new experience in the 1830 Station, STEM Learning hub, an interactive Wonderlab gallery for young visitors, significant new outdoor landscaping and public realm provision (including a new connecting route through to Aviva Studios) and new opportunities for outdoor play.    

Part of the Science Museum Group (SMG)—the world's leading group of science museums—Sally is also Executive lead for management of SMG's unparalleled collection of over 7 million items spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, ensuring its preservation and continued inspiration to millions of physical and digital visitors each year.  

Initially a volunteer, then a curator at Manchester Art Gallery, Sally was promoted to Deputy Director of the Geffrye Museum in London, before establishing a new multi-award-winning museum and heritage service in Croydon. She went on to work at UCL, leading their museums and theatre and establishing the university's Public Engagement team.

Whilst at UCL, Sally co-founded Cultural Heritage without Borders, an independent non-governmental organisation dedicated to rescuing and preserving cultural heritage affected by conflict, neglect, or human and natural disaster, and has worked internationally with UNESCO and the British Council. She has been a board member of several cultural sector organisations.   

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sally worked with museums across the city to help lead the sector response, with museums being some of the first attractions to re-open.




The Science and Industry Museum 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.  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 Science and Industry Museum site is on the site of the Liverpool Road Station terminus of the Liverpool Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's first passenger railway station and the oldest existing railway goods warehouse. In total there are two Grade I listed buildings and four Grade II listed buildings on the site.  

The Science and Industry Museum 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 five million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.