Helping the Museum of Science and Industry make an entrance
Showcasing Manchester’s innovative stories
MSI, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, showcases the city’s stories of innovation from the build up to the Industrial Revolution to the hi-tech developments of today. It’s built on the site of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station and the entrance is the magnificent Great Western Warehouse. Buttress was asked to redevelop the building and the space to tell MSI’s own story, and to welcome and engage up to 800,000 visitors a year to what is Manchester’s most popular museum.
Removing the clutter and revealing the quality of the building
Previous projects had left a cluttered and confused first impression, dominated by large ramps rising through a central atrium. These were removed and two new glazed stairways were built on the outside of the building, allowing us to rationalise the accommodation inside with a new ground floor gallery, extended conference facilities and an education suite on the first floor.
Developing the concepts
At the same time, by stripping out inappropriate additions, the architectural character of this grade II listed Victorian warehouse has been revealed, opening up the space, letting natural light in and making the building itself an exhibit and part of the museum’s enduring appeal.
“We have truly transformed the way in which visitors experience MSI by giving them an inspiring introduction to the Museum and by improving their navigation of the Great Western Warehouse and our historic site.”
Tony Hill, Director
Rational conservation combining heritage and technology
The new ground floor ‘Revolution Manchester’ gallery emphasises the building’s heritage and places collections and technology in topic areas that create a sense of arrival and anticipation. The interactive design studio, Kin Design, has made iconic objects focal points, interpreting them through technology that involves visitors, tells stories, and introduces people to new areas of the museum and its collections. A key element is the media wall, which wraps around the space and fragments and rises through the atrium to create a sculptural ‘chandelier’.
The remodelling is an example of Buttress’s rational conservation approach, recognising the need for continual development, while addressing the key issue of people movement in a space originally designed for a half to a third of current visitor numbers. The ground floor gallery and reception have been doubled in size, the conference and education suites substantially enlarged and able to function as independent entities, improving both the visitor experience and the museum’s commercial proposition.
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