Lottery to Fund New Museum

Today we’re thrilled to announce we have received a £2.89m National Lottery grant. This money will go towards an ambitious £5m development project that will see our museum double in size, with new galleries, learning spaces, shop and café built in an extension alongside our existing historic building. Our Grade II* listed synagogue, meanwhile, will be repaired and restored.

Planning permission for the development scheme was recently formally approved by Manchester City Council and, with both planning permission and an additional £1.5m already in place, our extension plans will now go ahead. Building work will commence towards the end of next year (2018), and the newly-developed museum will open in Summer 2020.

Nathan Lee, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “Manchester Jewish Museum is an extraordinary piece of 19th-century architecture, as well as the city’s oldest synagogue.  This is one of Manchester’s most important historic buildings and our investment of nearly £3m is set to bring it back to life for a new generation.  Thanks to National Lottery players, visitors will get a greater understanding of why this Cheetham Hill site is so important as well as hearing moving and uplifting stories about one of the UK’s oldest communities.”

The development builds on our increasing success. Visitor numbers have risen steadily since 2011, and last year we were listed as one of the UK’s top 10 small museums by The Times.

Our historic synagogue – the oldest in Manchester – has been described as a “jewel” by architectural historians. But the building needs urgent repairs. This project will restore the synagogue to its original architectural splendour, while new interactive displays, soundscapes and live performances will bring it to life for visitors.

Alongside preserving one of Manchester’s most significant historic buildings, we care for over 30,000 objects, from personal letters and photographs to Torah scrolls hidden from the Nazis during WWII. These objects help tell the story of Jewish Manchester, as well as broader stories of migration, identity and the Holocaust. Linked to the synagogue, our extension will create extra space in which to display our nationally significant collection, as well as a new learning and community studio and improved visitor facilities, such as a unique Jewish café.

“In such troubled times it feels like the right step to develop the museum,” said Chief Executive, Max Dunbar. “The historic stories of Manchester’s Jewish community are also the stories of today. They tell of people forced to flee their homes, who settled in a new country to rebuild their lives. These stories remind us what happens when people, politics and religion drive us apart – and how a city like Manchester can bring people together. I’m delighted that we can now build a better museum and share those stories to more people than ever before – and I’d like to give our sincere thanks to National Lottery players, and all of our supporters, for getting us to this point.”

The Museum’s Chair of Trustees, Andrew Singer, added, “This is a huge step forward for the museum and the communities whose stories it tells. We should all be very proud of this achievement and we are all very excited for the future”.

Commenting on the news, Museum Patron and award-winning writer, Howard Jacobson said: “I’m delighted that this development is going ahead. Manchester Jewish Museum is a vital resource, especially at a time when memories are shortening and histories are being lost. But a visit to the museum is also a hugely pleasurable experience. It’s a live museum, always showing you something that you didn’t know, always finding new ways to express what the city was and what the city is. I’m looking forward to discovering even more in the new museum when it opens in 2020.”

The building plans have been developed by a design team comprising: Citizens Design Bureau (Architects), Burro Happold (Structural & Services Engineers), Bristow Johnson (Quantity Surveyors) and All Things Studio (Exhibition Designers). Designed by Citizens Design Bureau, the museum extension has been inspired by the Moorish (Islamic) architecture of the museum’s Spanish and Portuguese synagogue. The decorative motifs inside the synagogue will be replicated on the façade of the new extension. Award-winning architect, Katy Marks said: “The combination of distinctly Islamic motifs in a Jewish building holds a poetic symbolism of the dialogue between these two cultures, which we intend to reflect within the new extension”.

The total size of the extension will be 459m². It will house a new foyer, café, retail space, collection store, visitor facilities and a 167m² gallery, which is almost three times the size of the museum’s current gallery. In addition to the new build, the museum’s synagogue will be repaired and restored. A new slate roof will be fitted and brickwork repaired. Inside, the synagogue’s historic interior paint scheme will be reinstated as a close recreation to the original 1873 scheme.

The museum remains open until autumn 2018, when construction and restoration work is planned to start. During construction, the museum will relocate to Manchester Central Library with a ‘pop-up’ Jewish Museum. The museum will also deliver a varied programme of activities across Manchester, most notably in Cheetham Hill in partnership with The Welcome Centre.

A total of £4,455,000 has been raised, with the Heritage Lottery Fund the main project funders, covering 58% of costs. Other funders to have pledged their support include: The Association of Jewish Refugees, Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, The Jack Livingstone Charitable Trust, The Beaverbrooks Charitable Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, The Eventhall Family Charitable Trust, The K.C. Shasha Charitable Foundation and The Granada Foundation.

While £4.4million has now been raised,  the museum needs to raise a further £250,000 to meet its final target. Naming opportunities are now available. Find out how you can support the museum’s plans here: MJM Appeal Brochure.