This project will allow us to transform the Power Hall into a multi-sensory gallery
– Sally MacDonald
Urgently-needed repair work has begun on the Grade II listed Power Hall at Manchester's Science and Industry Museum, following an injection of funding from the UK government.
The hall, which was built in 1855, houses Europe's largest collection of working steam engines, the majority of which were built in Manchester. When originally constructed, the hall was the shipping shed for Liverpool Road Station, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway station.
Alongside repairs to the roof of the Power Hall, the museum has a plan to transform the displays inside to explore "the ongoing relationship between humans, machines and power". It has received a £6m (US$7.51m, €6.69m) contribution from the UK government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, while additional funding has also come from the Science Museum Group, a family of UK museums of which the Science and Industry Museum is part.
It's expected that the project will take two years to complete, with the Power Hall reopening in Q3 2021. As part of the new set up, visitors will be able to see the museum team working on exhibits in workshop areas.
"The Power Hall is one of our most evocative and impressive galleries," said Sally MacDonald, director of the museum. "The sound of the machines working, and the whistle and smell of the steam as it drives them is a truly incredible experience and one that we know our visitors love.
"This project will allow us to not only carry out much-needed repairs but also transform the Power Hall into a multi-sensory gallery showing how Manchester provided the power that changed the city and the world ‒ from the way we work to the consumer society we live in."
The museum added that additional funding from Science Museum Group will enable important repairs to further listed buildings on site, including the 1830 Warehouse, which is the world's oldest surviving railway goods warehouse, and the New Warehouse, which houses the Textile Gallery, Revolution Manchester Gallery, Experiment family section and bistro.
Meanwhile, the museum has also received planning permission to create a new Special Exhibition Gallery within the New Warehouse, which it says will host "the world's best science exhibitions", along with events such as the Manchester Science Festival.