Tomorrow Manchester Museum will reopen after 18 months and a £15 million transformation.
Manchester Museum Revamped
The upgrade to the museum includes a new entrance off Oxford Road, a two storey extension to the existing museum, new exhibition spaces and a new South Asia Gallery. The brand new exhibition hall will open with a display of the “Golden Mummies of Egypt”.
With a bold design made up of green glazed terracotta tiles inspired by the museum’s Victorian surroundings the extension stands out visually at the same time as evoking an older style.
South Asia Gallery
In partnership with the British Museum, one of the main new attractions will be the South Asian gallery which will be the UK’s first permanent space to explore the lived experience of South Asian diaspora communities.
The co-ordinator of the South Asia Gallery, Nusrat Ahmed said “We want to show the richness and diversity of South Asia. It was to break down stereotypes and myths, and it was to highlight South Asia as being at the forefront of many things.”
On display will be a self-portrait painting by Azraa Motala, a young British South Asian artist who studied at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. The piece ‘I Beg You To Define Me’, shows her lounging on a chair on a black background, wearing a mixture of traditional south Asian clothes and modern street fashion.
The gallery will also include such south Asian exhibits as a rickshaw decorated with Mancunian imagery as well as Bangladeshi designs, First World War recruitment posters from what was then British India and leaflets from gay nightclubs from the 1970s.
As well as the British museum the gallery is being curated by the South Asia Gallery Collective, a group of 30 community leaders, educators, artists, historians, journalists and musicians to ensure that this story was told from a variety of perspectives. Historian and member of the collective, Anindita Ghosh, said: “It’s a story of South Asia taught by South Asians themselves. And that’s a very empowering spirit.”
The story of empire, and British Imperialism in particular is complex, political and important. It is a subject that continues to echo through the lives of people across the world. Telling this story, or even stories adjacent is hard, people from all backgrounds have mixed but strong feelings on the topic and any perspective is bound to draw attention from those who would use history for their own ends.
Photo Credit: Manchester Museum
By at once zooming in on North West South Asian stories while giving view of the massive context that lead the UK to host significant a significant South Asian population, this exhibit is an exciting prospect and an admirable anchor for the reopening of the museum.