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Manchester's Museum of Science + Industry Director at Future Cities Forum's Levelling up event

The Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester's Director, Sally MacDonald.(Courtesy SIM)

The Director of Manchester's Science and Industry Museum, Sally MacDonald, will be speaking at Future Cities Forum on 14th June. Sally joined the Science and Industry Museum as Director in September 2014 from University College London (UCL) where she led on Public and Cultural Engagement Programmes. She leads the premier science museum in the North West of England which attracts around 700,000 visitors each year. The Museum is part of the Science Museum Group and each year produces the Manchester Science Festival, which has a reputation for innovative programming.

Future Cities Forum is being hosted by the Museum and there will be discussions about the regeneration of the City of Manchester, not least the St John's area, in which the museum sits and where Allied London is developing the former Granada Studios into a new entertainment space called The Factory.

The Museum occupies a site of global significance as the world's first surviving passenger railway station in Manchester, the world's first industrial city. The next few years will see a transformation of the Museum's five listed buildings and open spaces, to tell the story of how ideas change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond.

Climate change is an important issue for the Museum and it has been awarded £4.3 million by the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to transform its environmental sustainability and place zero carbon technology at the heart of the visitor experience.

In the 1800s, a well was built in the lower ground floor of the world’s first railway warehouse (the museum’s Grade I listed 1830 Warehouse), to harness the power of the ground water. This natural resource will now once again be utilised by the installation of a new water source heat pump network including bore holes along with the latest green technologies. This is a visionary, sector-leading project where the original and modern combine for a sustainable museum of the future.

The Power Hall and Decarbonisation project is to be delivered as one project. However, the required Planning and Listed Building Consent applications must be split into several separate applications due to the different Listings of the buildings and the deadlines for the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which needs to be completed this year. Splitting the consent packages will also allow construction work to start on site earlier and ensure we can meet the Government deadlines.

As part of our recently announced decarbonisation plan, £2.6 million of the funding received will be used to transform the Power Hall into a landmark symbol of the future, as well as of historic engineering.

The £2.6 million will enable the Power Hall (currently undergoing urgent restoration thanks to £6 million from the DCMS) to reduce C02 emissions by 60% by 2030 through enhanced roof insulation and glazing to improve energy efficiency, an electric boiler and water source heat pumps to heat the space and now power the historic engines sustainably, and a new building management system to monitor and control energy use of this iconic gallery.

The funding will place carbon literacy and zero carbon technology at the heart of the museum’s story and visitor experience. It will transform the Power Hall into a landmark symbol of the future, as well as of historic engineering.

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester and the industrial heritage buildings of the museum (including the Power Hall) were the catalyst for scientific innovation and unprecedented change worldwide. Powered by fossil fuel, past industry has been a major cause of climate change, the most pressing challenge facing our planet. Now, the Power Hall will help prime future progress through inspiring future scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators in developing careers and skills to help achieve a green economy and the next (green) industrial revolution.

Following this additional infrastructure work, scaffolding is due to be dismantled in Spring 2022, internal work is due to begin in early 2022 with the Power Hall now due to re-open to the public in 2023. The spectacular new 725 square metre flexible gallery space is now complete and ready to originate and host some of the world's best science exhibitions and experiences in the North.

Designed by Carmody Groarke, working alongside Manchester building contractor HH Smith & Sons, the transformation of the lower ground floor of the museum's Grade II listed New Warehouse combines grand industrial beauty with modern and sustainable design. It opens-up public access as a gallery space to this part of the museum's globally significant site for the first time. The New Warehouse was built in 1882 from brick, cast and wrought iron and sandstone to provide storage for the Great Western Railway and designed to support the weight of goods wagons entering the building and unloading cargo (which would have been moved through to the lower ground floor through ceiling hatches still visible today).

Used as museum stores until recently, the historic fabric of the lower ground floor has been revealed and restored, allowing visitors to experience the grandeur and scale of the original warehouse space while enjoying new exhibition experiences.

The £5 million Special Exhibitions Gallery is being 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.


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