Carmody Groarke

New Special Exhibitions Gallery . Manchester

Carmody Groarke . Science Museum Group . Manchester Gilbert McCarragher  afasia (2)

Carmody Groarke . photos: © Gilbert McCarragher . + AJ

The gallery is located on the lower ground floor of the New Warehouse, a Grade II listed structure, dating back to the 1880s. In the coming years, the museum aims to create stronger site-wide orientation and access between the existing historic buildings and spaces and its network of Victorian railway viaducts. The Special Exhibitions Gallery project creates a new visitor route, which links the Lower Yard with the busiest levels of the museum above. It also opens-up public access as a gallery space to this part of the museum’s globally significant site for the first time.

The new entrance from the museum’s Lower Yard rehabilitates the vaulted under- croft of the historic viaduct, also known as the “Pineapple Line” (over which railway tracks run into the New Warehouse), now transforming this area into a bright and welcoming space, which clearly orientates visitors and provides an uplifting arrival.

Full-height, fibre-glass panelled walls transform the visitor welcome from outside to inside, alleviating the visual weight of the heavy Victorian structures overhead, which were designed to support the weight of goods wagons above, and concealing some of the ongoing maintenance works required for care the historic building fabric in perpetuity. Each new fibre-glass panel has been hand-cast and tinted with a terracotta-hue to complement the surrounding weathered Victorian brickwork.

The panels are subtly back-lit, revealing the maker’s marks in their surface and to gently illuminate the spatial and decorative qualities of the historic cast-iron and brick jack-arch structures that form the railway infrastructure above.

The generous external ramped entrance below the railway viaduct creates step free access for all visitors and assists with collections management; allowing the museum to display larger collection items, with dedicated object preparation and handling facilities also being provided. The Lower Yard and the area below the ‘Pineapple Line’ viaduct will increasingly play a key role in the site-wide masterplan, with new connections and entrances between the Science and Industry Museum, The Factory and the developing St John’s and Castlefield neighbourhoods, as this part of the city is transformed.

Inside, the foyer contains visitor welcome functions and a large open-plan events space, which connects directly to the new Special Exhibitions Gallery. This new gallery exploits the size and character of the vast warehouse lower-ground floor with its composite cast-iron and brick structure and 5m-high vaulted ceilings, which follow the profile of historic railway lines and platforms above. The historic fabric throughout the gallery has been revealed and restored, to allow visitors to experience the grandeur and scale of the original warehouse space, whilst enjoying new exhibition experiences.

The gallery has been carefully designed to support the display of the museum’s collections, whilst also reducing the museum’s energy use. Passive environmental design has been used wherever possible to reduce life-cycle costing, save carbon and to reduce the visual impact on the exhibition environment. New walls are bolstered with hygroscopic mass to reduce need for dehumidification and low energy exhibition lighting has been used throughout.

Save this picture!© Gilbert McCarragher© Gilbert McCarragher
The Special Exhibitions Gallery is the first project to be completed in the Science and Industry Museum’s multi-million-pound masterplan, which will conserve and further open up its globally significant buildings and bring to life the story of the site and past, present, and future ideas that change the world.

Science Museum Group


Gilbert McCarragher
Science Museum Group