The Science and Industry Museum is creating a new 725 square metre flexible gallery space, to open in Spring 2021.
The project will reveal striking historic spaces previously not open to the public on the lower ground floor of the Grade II Listed New Warehouse.
Director Sally MacDonald says:
"This new gallery will originate and host some of the world's best science exhibitions and help establish the Science and Industry Museum as a beacon for contemporary science and major cultural destination in the coming years. In revealing this incredible new space, we can't wait to inspire visitors year-round with more ideas that have changed the world and start to open up new areas of our globally important site."
The New Warehouse was built in 1882 to provide storage for the Great Western Railway and designed to support the weight of steam trains entering the building and unloading the cargo through ceiling hatches. Used as museum stores until recently, the historic fabric of the lower ground floor will be revealed and restored, allowing visitors to the museum to experience the grandeur and scale of the original warehouse space while enjoying new exhibition experiences. The industrial spaces have thick brick walls with steel and brick ‘jack arch’ ceilings.
The Special Exhibitions Gallery is designed by award-winning architectural practice Carmody Groarke whose recent projects include the critically acclaimed Windermere Jetty Museum, and the Maggie's Cancer Care Centre in Liverpool.
In the gallery, new walls will house all the necessary services for the space and be a blank canvas for exhibitions. The existing brick ceilings will be exposed, including a dramatic high section in the centre due to the historic platform above (now the Textile Gallery on the upper level). The thermal mass of the existing sizeable structure helps to maintain a stable environment for the exhibits and visitors and will be assisted by low energy air-handling units.
To the external area and the front-of-house space, illuminated fibreglass panels will form new interventions and light the spaces with a warm glow. High quality robust materials will be used throughout the project.
The new gallery will allow better access to display large collection items. The project scope also includes a reception area, shop, and an improved outdoor welcome area in the lower courtyard of the museum, which is fully accessible.
Following a public procurement process, HH Smith & Sons was appointed in October 2019 as the main building contractor for the Special Exhibitions Gallery project. Established in 1955, HH Smith & Sons are a family construction company based in north Manchester and have recently completed the Halle St. Peter's project.
The £5 million Special Exhibitions Gallery is being generously funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Wellcome and Garfield Weston Foundation, with further support from the Kirby Laing Foundation and The Zochonis Charitable Trust.
The inaugural exhibition will be Top Secret, a joint exhibition between the Science Museum Group and GCHQ, which explores over a century's worth of communications intelligence from the First World War to the latest in cyber security, through hand-written documents, declassified files and artefacts from the Science Museum Group's and GCHQ's historic collections.