The Museum of Science and Industry is devoted to inspiring our visitors through ideas that change the world, from the Industrial Revolution to today and beyond.
It's a story that we're uniquely placed to tell—on the site of the oldest surviving passenger railway station, in the heart of the world’s first industrial city, today alive with innovative discoveries in science and technology.
We care for a globally important heritage site comprising five listed buildings, two of them listed Grade 1. This site was the original terminus of the world’s first inter-city railway and our characteristic 1830 Warehouse epitomises Manchester’s 19th-century reputation as the "warehouse of the western world".
Key objects in the collection include:
- The models used by John Dalton to demonstrate his atomic theory, laying the foundations of modern chemistry
- Parts from the world’s first commercially available computer, the Ferranti Mark 1
- One of the world’s largest collections of working steam mill engines, which you can see in action in the Power Hall
- Daily demonstrations from spinning to weaving on original machines in our Textiles Gallery
We combine the distinctive appeal of our historic site with a vibrant contemporary science programme, making connections between the past and the present, between scientific theory and real-world applications.
One of the flagship events in our cultural calendar, bringing science to life for people of all ages, is the 11-day Manchester Science Festival, which takes place across the city. Each October, it attracts the best scientists from Manchester and beyond to showcase current research and promote the region’s rich heritage of innovation.
Opened in 1969, the North Western Museum of Science and Industry quickly outgrew its temporary premises on Grosvenor Street in Chorlton-on-Medlock. When Liverpool Road Station closed in 1975, Greater Manchester Council agreed to purchase it to become the museum’s new home.
1983: Open for business
The museum re-opened on 15 September 1983, the 153rd anniversary of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Our first major gallery was the Power Hall.
1984: An electrifying development
Work began on the development of the National Electricity Gallery, co-funded by Greater Manchester County Council and the Electricity Council.
The central exhibit, a turbo-generator from the Back o’ th’ Bank Power Station in Bolton, had to be craned in through the roof in parts and reassembled. The gallery opened in March 1986.
1986: Adding air and space
In December 1985, the museum took over the running of the former Greater Manchester Air and Space Museum (now known as the Air and Space Hall) from Manchester City Council. The first major new exhibit was the nose cone of a Trident jet airliner.
1987: Saving the station
The Station buildings needed repairs to make them fit for public access. The restoration of the former shops and carriage shed was a big challenge. This structure was so unsound that it had to be completely dismantled and rebuilt.
1988: Ramping it up
A major project to renovate the Great Western Warehouse began, and in November, the Xperiment! science centre opened on the top floor.
1989: With a little help from our friends
Since the museum opened, the Friends of the Museum helped to bring the site to life by running steam train rides at weekends. In 1989, they launched a major project to build a full-size replica of the Planet locomotive, which came into service on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in December 1830.
1991: The power story continues
A new section of the Electricity Gallery opened in February and the Gas Gallery opened in November.
1992: Restoration, restoration, restoration
The 1830 Warehouse was the world’s first railway warehouse. Badly derelict by 1983, it needed major restoration. Work began in 1991 and the first restoration phase was completed in 1992. By the time the third phase was completed in 1997, the total cost stood at £5.5m.
1998: The digital summer
To mark the 50th anniversary of the development of the world’s first stored-program computer in Manchester, we opened Futures Gallery, featuring a unique working exhibit of the Baby computer as its star exhibit.
2001: The UK’s first on-site collection store
In September we opened our Collections Centre. This was the first on-site centre for object and archive collections in the UK. The Lancashire Mining Museum in Salford closed, and their collection made its way to our stores. In 2001, the museum also became free to enter.
2005: The Liverpool to Manchester Railway turns 175
The museum celebrated 175 years of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway with a Riot of Steam festival – featuring a restored Lion loco that ran on the LMR from 1830 to the 1850s.
2007: Invasion of the Daleks
Our special Doctor Who: Up-Close exhibition had a record-breaking run attracting 226,246 visitors over 9 months. A Guinness World Record was set in August when we welcomed the largest-ever gathering of Daleks.
2008: Busy bodies
In February we opened Body Worlds 4, which featured bodies preserved through plastination. Media coverage provoked a diverse response, from admiration to outrage, but that year our visitor numbers reached an unparalleled 819,000.
2010: The great Great Western Warehouse
Work began on the £9m redevelopment of the Great Western Warehouse in November 2009, and by the end of 2010 the new Learning Centre, Conference Centre, Restaurant and Cafe, Museum Shop and main entrance were open for business. The reincarnated Experiment! hands-on science gallery opened in December, to the delight of many of our regular visitors. HRH The Prince of Wales also visited the museum, pulling up to the 1830 Station Platform in the Royal Train.
2011: Revolution Manchester
In January the museum opened Revolution Manchester, featuring a stunning digital sculpture and a 50-screen video wall. The new gallery tied together 200 years of Manchester innovation, and provides an inspiring introduction to just a few of the ideas that changed the world.
2012: Welcome to the SMG family
The museum took the historic step of merging with the Science Museum Group (SMG), in order to secure its financial future. In doing so, the Museum of Science and Industry became a national museum.
2013: Highlights Gallery
The museum celebrated its 30th birthday. The Highlights Gallery was opened with the Creating the Illusion exhibition, a fascinating look at the history of animation in the North West.
2014: A Welcome face-lift
A new Welcome and Entrance was unveiled in 2014, including huge glass gates designed by Peter Saville, opening up a magnificent new view of our historic site. The museum also took Collider, its first major touring exhibition from the Science Museum since joining the group.
2015: The Innovation Race
The Innovation Race exhibition commemorated the role of Manchester manufacturers during World War One, and brought together hidden treasures from the museum's archive and object collection.
2016: Wonder Materials, ECOS and Manchester Science Festival's 10th birthday
The Wonder Materials exhibition opened, a highlight of Manchester’s year as European City of Science (ECOS). This exploration of the story of graphene was the first major exhibition generated at the museum to be destined for an international tour. 2016 also saw the 10th birthday of Manchester Science Festival, produced by the museum. The 2016 festival had 90 partners and attracted over 136,000 visitors, including one astronaut in the shape of Tim Peake, who hosted a family-focused Q&A session.
In addition, the end of the year saw the museum receive planning permission to build its new Special Exhibition Gallery.
Interim Head of Learning and Public Programmes
Head of Marketing and Communications
Head of Exhibitions and Gallery Projects
Head of Operations
Head of Estates
Head of Development
The Museum of Science and Industry is part of the Science Museum Group (SMG).
SMG is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media, throughout which the common bond is human ingenuity.
Its collections form an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical change since the 18th century.
As well as this museum, SMG incorporates:
- the Science Museum, its library and archive and the Wellcome Collection of the History of Medicine in London
- the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford
- the National Railway Museum in York and its sister Locomotion site in Shildon
- major collections stores at Wroughton in Wiltshire and Blythe House in London
Read about the Science Museum Group’s public task on the SMG Public Sector Information page.
The Museum of Science and Industry would like to thank Bernie Lyons of Platinum Leaf Coaching Ltd for mentoring services provided through the mentoring programme run by Business in the Arts.