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About us

Find out more about the museum’s rich history and ambitions for the future.

Manchester Museum, one of the largest university museums in the UK, is over one hundred and thirty years old.

The original neo-Gothic building was designed by renowned architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830–1905) and is home to around four and a half million objects from natural sciences and human cultures. It has always been a place for research and learning, and we are a critical part of the city’s research infrastructure today.

hello future is the name given to the £15 million capital project, which transformed the museum and completed in February 2023. 

Although our building and objects are important, the hello future transformation was about so much more.  We asked ourselves how we can care for people, their ideas, beliefs and relationships. We believe that museums have extraordinary power to build understanding and empathy between cultures, across generations and time.

Transforming a historic building with such a large collection and renewing our civic mission was a complex project. Over eighteen thousand objects had to be moved or protected from building work during construction and we recycled and reused as much material as we could. It was made possible thanks to our extraordinary team and a spirit of collective endeavour. 

The galleries and facilities that you find across the museum have been co-curated and co-designed and displays include new and diverse perspectives. 

We have reimagined the entire Top Floor and you will find education groups, charities, artists, writers, social enterprises, activists, staff and students co-working and collaborating here, with a shared commitment to social and environmental justice. 

The museum was born of civic spirit, curiosity and ambition at the height of British colonial rule, and how we acknowledge, interrogate and address this complex history is critical and urgent work. We are rethinking restitution and building new relationships with communities across the world and with those most intimately connected to our collections.  

A university museum

We are proud to be part of the University of Manchester. The university has, for over a decade now, had a commitment to social responsibility as one if its core aims (alongside teaching and learning).  Our commitment to caring for not only collections, but for people and relationships aligns perfectly with this.  Our more pro-active approach to repatriation and our social justice and anti-poverty work is understood and wholeheartedly supported as an integral part of what it means to be a socially responsible museum and university.

We are leading, facilitating and supporting more collections-based and diverse, interdisciplinary research and co-research than ever before.  It is embedded in all the new displays.  For example, the Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery profiles some ground-breaking research collaborations; including Prof Henry Yi Li’s work in Manchester and Hong on smart textiles and Prof Shulan Tang’s research and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The new dinosaur gallery has been created to share “how to think like a palaeontologist”, taking lessons and activities from what you would study if you came to the university and the experience and expertise of staff and students has shaped and is central to the display.

Social responsibility policy

Our mission and values drive everything we do.

We are committed to building understanding between cultures and a more sustainable world.

Mission and values

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You can help us care for our collections and bring joy and inspiration to people in Manchester and beyond.

As one of the UK’s largest university museums, we care for over 4.5 million objects, with an internationally-important collection spanning from Archaeology to Zoology, and nearly everything in between. We work with communities, support university students and schools in Manchester and beyond and we are a free, inclusive museum for all. But we need your help. Every object we care for, exhibition, school visit and community event comes at a cost, and you can help make the museum as ambitious and impactful as possible.