THE Museum of Science and Industry is to close its beloved Air and Space Hall.
Manchester’s Grade II listed tourist attraction has been used to house a historic collection of bikes, planes and cars since 1985 and has been enjoyed by generations of families.
But the repairs and conservation work needed on the building are now said to be ‘extensive and intensive’ and so a difficult decision has been made by the charity that runs the museum to pass the hall back to Manchester City Council.
The Air and Space Hall was originally taken on by the ‘North Western Museum of Science and Industry’ in 1985 before transferring to the Science Museum Group in 2012.
Director Sally MacDonald, said: “The decision to vacate our lease has not been easy but it’s 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 £5 million new Special Exhibitions Gallery, which more than 20,000 visitors have already enjoyed, and we are investing £11.3 million in our iconic Power Hall, due to reopen in 2023. We are also undertaking repairs valued at over £3 million 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 world’s 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 region’s transport innovation in our galleries, in our new talks and learning programmes and online.”
The majority of the bikes, planes and cars on display will be able to be seen in future displays in new locations around the UK, as they will be returned from loan.
The RAF Museum’s spectacular Avro Shackleton will travel to its ‘spiritual home’ at the Avro Heritage Museum in nearby Woodford, Stockport, the site of A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd, where it was originally made by Manchester-born inventor Alliot Verdon Roe, a leader in British Aircraft design.
Well-loved objects from the Science and Industry Museum collections will remain there to be seen, including the 1905 Rolls-Royce motor car, used by Henry Royce himself, currently on display in the Revolution Manchester gallery.
A spokesperson added: “Key stories such as how Manchester’s motor manufacturers have used progressive methods to produce some of the most iconic cars to have motored on our roads (including the Ford Model T) and around Manchester’s thrilling history of cycling innovation and triumphs (including bicycles dating from the 1800s) will also continue to be told in future displays at the museum.”