Manchester’s historic Air and Space Hall is set to close – with the Science & Industry Museum confirming today that it will no longer lease the building.
Lower Campfield Market has been used as a museum space since the 1980s – housing cars, bikes and aeroplanes “that got industrial Manchester moving”.
The building was originally owned by the North Western Museum of Science and Industry in 1985 and then by the Science Museum Group in 2012. But now the Air and Space Hall is closing its doors – with the building being passed back to the local council.
Repair and investment work on the hall has been described as “substantial”, with the building presenting “real challenges in the sustainable display of historic objects”.
The museum has said vacating the lease is the “responsible” thing to do.
Director of the Science & Industry Museum 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.
“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.”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said that “new activities” would be introduced into the Lower Campfield Market building to help support the city’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
He stated: “The Council welcomes the significant investments which are being made to improve the Science and Industry Museum across the heritage buildings that the museum owns. We recognise that to thrive and continually attract visitors museums need to evolve over time.
“Working with Allied London, we are developing proposals to refurbish both Upper and Lower Campfield Markets to create and support jobs. These will be brought forward in due course.”
The majority of the bikes, planes and cars at the Air and Space Hall will be moved to new locations around the UK and returned from loan to their home organisations.
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).
Manchester remains home to a number of transport museums, including Greater Manchester Transport Museum, Bury Transport Museum, Avro Heritage Museum, Runway Visitor Park and North West Museum of Road Transport.
The Science & Industry Museum is currently hosting two major exhibitions including Top Secret: from ciphers to cyber security and Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records.
The museum is currently in the process of investing £11.3million in the Power Hall, due to reopen in 2023, as well as £3m repairs to the 1830 Station and 1830 Warehouse.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons