The Science and Industry Museum and Manchester City Council announce today that the museum will no longer lease the historic Lower Campfield market hall building which houses the Air and Space Hall.
This hall, which is closed due to the extent of repairs needed, and many of the objects within it, formed Manchester City Council's Air and Space Museum, which opened in 1983.The Air and Space Hall was originally taken on by the North Western Museum of Science and Industry in 1985 due to the disbanding of Greater Manchester Councils Air and Space Museum, before transferring to the Science Museum Group in 2012.
The majority of the aviation collection on display will be returned from loan to their home organisations, which include the RAF Museum
. Many new onward destinations for loan are currently being planned to ensure that the collections can continue to be enjoyed by the public across the UK.
The RAF Museums Avro 707A and English Electric P1A will be rehomed at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, and the Avro 504K will find a new home at the Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome in Essex where members of the public will soon be able to see them on display. The Yokosuka Ohka II will travel to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona, USA, while the Avro Shackleton will travel to its spiritual home at the Avro Heritage Museum in Woodford, Stockport. Many aircraft will also return to The Aeroplane Collection at nearby Ellesmere Port.
Maggie Appleton, RAF Museum CEO said: We are delighted to be rehoming these aircraft and sharing them with new audiences to enjoy and connect with their stories. I know they will resonate with audiences and communities, with some even having local stories linked to them. As a National Museum, the RAF Museum is committed to sharing the story of the Royal Air Force with everyone, and having jewels from our collection on display in different parts of the country, and indeed the world, means that this story is more accessible and available. I look forward to visiting each site to see them on display.
Science and Industry Museum Director, Sally Macdonald, says: The decision to vacate our lease has not been easy but its the right thing to do for our visitors, the building and the city. Since the Science Museum Group took on the Science and Industry Museum in 2012, we have been working hard on an extensive and intensive programme of urgent repair and conservation work to the buildings the museum inhabits so we can continue to inspire visitors with ideas that change the world.
We have just completed a £5million new Special Exhibitions Gallery which over 20,000 visitors have already enjoyed, and we are investing £11.3million in our iconic Power Hall, due to reopen in 2023. We are also undertaking repairs valued at over £3m to the 1830 Station and 1830 warehouse.
As a charity we have invested significant resource to maintain and repair the Air and Space Hall since we have taken on its stewardship, however historic buildings do have a complexity of issues that date back many decades. The repair and investment work required to bring this beautiful building back to life is substantial, the space presents real challenges in the sustainable display of historic objects and ultimately, it is the responsible thing to now pass the building back to Manchester City Council, ready for its next chapter. We take seriously our responsibility to look after our globally significant buildings, which include the worlds oldest surviving passenger station and railway warehouse and we have to prioritise these buildings that we own.
I would like to thank all of the visitors, volunteers and partners that have helped to make the Air and Space Hall such a special place for many. We will continue to tell stories and display iconic objects demonstrating the regions transport innovation in our galleries, in our new talks and learning programmes and online.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, says: The Council welcomes the significant investments which are being made to improve the Science and Industry Museum across the heritage buildings that the museum owns. We recognise that to thrive and continually attract visitors museums need to evolve over time. As such, we support the planned changes. This creates an opportunity to introduce new activities into the Lower Campfield Market building to help support Manchester's economic recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Working with Allied London, we are developing proposals to refurbish both Upper and Lower Campfield Markets to create and support jobs. These will be brought forward in due course."
The museum collection, including objects of scale, will continue to be used to tell the story of aeronautics in the North West and will be used in future galleries to showcase the huge contribution the region has made in aviation history.
Visitors in Manchester will also be welcomed when they visit Greater Manchester Transport Museum, Bury Transport Museum, Avro Heritage Museum, Runway Visitor Park, North West Museum of Road Transport and other Greater Manchester Transport Heritage partner venues to view heritage transport collections nearby.
The museums historic New Warehouse which houses the Revolution Manchester, Textiles, Experiment, and Special Exhibition galleries remains open with a changing programme of major special exhibitions including Top Secret: from ciphers to cyber security and Use Hearing Protection: the early years of Factory Records, and events for visitors of all ages. The rest of the 7 acre museum is currently undergoing a multi-million pound restoration programme to carry out crucial conservation and renovation work across its listed buildings and structures, bringing to life the story of the site, revealing new spaces and perspectives for all visitors to enjoy, play and learn in and creating a more sustainable museum. The Museums much-loved Power Hall is due to reopen in 2023.