The redevelopment of the Manchester Jewish Museum has been a long labour of love spanning almost a decade.
The museum relocated to Manchester Central Library whilst the building closed for construction work. Over the weekend the venue welcomed the public back after a two-year closure and impressive £6m redevelopment.
Reduced numbers under Covid restrictions meant tickets were in high demand, with the museum celebrating a sold-out opening weekend.
A place to explore what connects us all, the institution tells the stories of the Jewish people and communities of Manchester. The lottery-funded redevelopment includes an extension designed by Citizens Design Bureau that has doubled the museum in size, with a new gallery, shop, cafe, learning studio and kitchen.
The capital project also saw the renovation and restoration of the museum’s 1874 Grade II* Listed former synagogue, which will serve as a “living artefact” and a cultural space for live events.
The redevelopment took food as a starting point and a “unifying force between cultures”. Visitors to the vegetarian kosher-style café will be able to discover more about the history and traditions of Jewish food while they eat. There is also an adjacent learning kitchen where schools and community groups can cook, bake and explore Jewish food culture together as part of the museum’s food programme.
A new Journeys, Communities and Identities gallery, designed by All Things Studio, has enabled much more of the museum’s 31,000-strong collection to be displayed. Features in the gallery include a floor map of Cheetham Hill – the culturally diverse district where the museum is located – as well as moveable digital labels and a collection of oral histories telling the stories of Jewish Mancunians.
Also on display is Turner Prize-winning artist Laure Prouvost’s new installation, The Long Waited, Weighted, Gathering, which was co-commissioned by Manchester Jewish Museum and Manchester International Festival and will remain in place until October.
The redevelopment has integrated a number of sustainable features into the new and the original museum buildings, reducing its energy use and carbon intensity by around 20%.