Manchester Museum begins Major Transformation Appointing Architect, Designer and Project Manager for its Courtyard Project

Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, has started developments towards its Courtyard Project with the appointment of a prestigious team. The University of Manchester is delighted to announce the appointment of architects Purcell for the proposed transformation of the Museum and designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) to lead the interpretive exhibition design for the South Asia Gallery, whilst Buro Four will be Project Manager.

The Courtyard project will transform the Museum with a major two-storey extension, a new main entrance, and much-improved visitor facilities inspired by a new ethos of a ‘museum for life.’ A key feature of the project will be a permanent South Asia Gallery created in a landmark partnership with the British Museum. Development funding of £406,400 has been awarded from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help Manchester Museum progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. The total cost of the Courtyard Project is expected to exceed £12.4million, with £5 million from the Treasury towards the South Asia Gallery.

Manchester Museum has appointed Purcell as architects and full design team for the proposed transformation of the museum.

The firm’s winning bid was praised for not only demonstrating their understanding of the historic fabric of the Grade II listed buildings, but also for its response to transforming the experience of visiting. 

For Purcell, this project is a highly significant commission, giving its architects the opportunity to combine decades of experience as the country’s leading experts in the repair and reuse of historic buildings, with a growing ambition to produce the very best contemporary architecture. 

The team has extensive experience working on cultural landmarks in the region, with past projects including Liverpool’s St George’s Hall, the Florence Institute and Blackburn’s Cathedral Quarter redevelopment. Purcell’s museum experience includes work at the British Museum, the National Maritime Museum in London, the National Museum for the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, National Mining Museum Scotland and St Fagans National History Museum in Wales.

The full appointment includes Purcell as architects with their sub- consultants BuroHappold Engineering (Structural Engineer) and Max Fordham (Mechanical and Electrical Engineer).

Project architect Rob Chambers commented:

“The new galleries at the museum will provide much needed improvements to the building and will be an exemplar demonstration of high quality design in a historically sensitive cultural landmark. The practice is thrilled to be collaborating with The University of Manchester and we look forward to delivering an innovative response to this exciting site in the heart of the museum.”

Designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) are appointed to lead the interpretive exhibition design for the South Asia Gallery at Manchester Museum.

RAA are planners, designers and producers of award winning museums, exhibitions and educational environments worldwide. The South Asia Gallery will be developed by RAA’s London studio, which was established in 2000 by Mr Phillip Tefft, Director of UK Operations.

Recently opened projects by RAA’s London studio include Lincoln Castle and the interpretation of Magna Carta (2015), The Women’s Library at the London School of Economics Library (2015), ‘The First World War in the Air’ at the Royal Air Force Museum (2014), which received a Graphis Platinum Award, the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London (2012), the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh (2011), which received a Museum and Heritage Award and a Civic Trust Award.

Phillip Tefft, Director of UK Operations at Ralph Appelbaum Associates, says:

‘The RAA team was inspired the moment we received the brief for the South Asia Gallery at the Manchester Museum. We are honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with both the British Museum and Manchester Museum for this prestigious project, and we look forward to working with this team to showcase the British Museum’s remarkable collections to South Asian and broader audiences, to the Community and to the world, in a celebration of ‘all things Desi’!”

Dr Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum, said,

‘We are delighted by these appointments to what will be the Museum’s largest project in a generation. They are the first step in a major transformation which will make the Museum appealing to even wider and larger audiences’.

Buro Four appointed to project manage the Courtyard Project at Manchester Museum

Buro Four, specialist project and programme manager has a particular strength in the planning, management and delivery of prestigious cultural and education projects as well as working with the HLF to deliver projects that truly capture the value of heritage.

This project will be managed by Buro Four’s Manchester office, which is also currently managing the £320m Engineering Campus and FirstLight and SKA projects at Jodrell Bank for the University as well as the second phases of restoration and development at Gorton Monastery and Band on the Wall. Buro Four have also recently been appointed to deliver the Museum of London’s £150m new home at West Smithfield in London.

David Boles, Regional Director, said,

‘This project presents such an exciting opportunity to expand on the cultural offer for Manchester and we’re absolutely delighted to be a part of it. We have always genuinely enjoyed delivering projects in this sector and take great pleasure from helping our clients create and enhance cultural opportunities in historic settings’.