Re-Imagining the museum: An Overflow of Treasures

Art museums, far from being neutral vessels for the simple presentation of artworks, are complex institutions deeply rooted in a thicket of political, sociological, and ideological histories that impact how we encounter and come to understand the objects they contain. Whilst recent renovations of Manchester Art Gallery have allowed more public access to historic interiors, it still fails to introduce ideologies of the evolved gallery. 

The city acts as a collection of artefacts and patterns of activity embedded in the fabric of the built environment, the city lends itself to being read as an archive built up over time as a collection and a record of the past that continues to resonate in the present.

This thesis project challenges the elitist heritage of Manchester Art gallery, by reconnecting it with the city and breaking down its threshold fear. By allowing the gallery treasures to overflow into the city, the streets become gallery walls, where admission is always free, hours are limitless and Manchester’s hidden narratives are accessible to all. 

By creating new additions to the existing museum the imposing temple architecture will become less important. The transition from process to artefact is traditionally not experienced in an art gallery. Through reuse and new-build, the creation of a new art school and exhibition hall on the site allows anyone learn about and create art, undermining and confronting the contentious, elitist history of the gallery.