The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester has received a £3million donation from The Law Family Charitable Foundation to fund the future of its iconic Power Hall gallery.
The donation, the museum’s largest philanthropic gift to date, will support the gallery’s regeneration and provide more young people from Greater Manchester and beyond with access to unique learning experiences inspired by ideas that change the world.
This gift is a cornerstone in the funding of the museum’s ambitious development plans. In recognition of The Law Family Charitable Foundation’s generosity and the significant benefit it will have for visitors, the gallery will be known as the Power Hall: The Law Family Gallery, when it reopens to the public in 2024.
The globally important, Grade II listed building is one of the most beloved industrial heritage galleries in the country. Built in 1855 as the shipping shed for Liverpool Road Station, the world’s first purpose-built passenger railway station, the Power Hall now houses one of the UK’s largest collections of working steam engines, most of them built in Manchester.
It has been temporarily closed to the public since before the pandemic to enable major repairs to the roof, as well as an extensive redisplay of the gallery, thanks to investment by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Science Museum Group, as well as a grant from Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme administered through Salix. The significant gift by The Law Family Charitable Foundation is a welcome boost for the project and will help create a wonderful new gallery for visitors, who will be able to see these impressive engines in action, gain unique insights into the ideas and inventions that drove industry, and delve deeper into the personal stories behind world-changing technology.
The donation will also support a transformational education programme centred around the stories and machines in the Power Hall. The Science and Industry Museum is at the forefront of a drive to address the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills gap across Greater Manchester, and the Power Hall will play a vital role in this. By exploring ingenuity of the past, the gallery will inspire engineers and innovators of the future. It aims to encourage more young people to pursue careers in STEM by highlighting the diverse people responsible for inventing, building and powering new technology, and demonstrating the fundamental role of engineers and innovation in turning Manchester into the thriving city it is today.
Director of the Science and Industry Museum, Sally MacDonald, said: “The Power Hall is a much-loved gallery and, with the support of this incredibly generous gift, will be more impressive than ever when it reopens.
“This funding means we can create a truly fascinating space that offers visitors the unique opportunity to see science in action on an industrial scale. It will also support us to achieve the Power Hall’s sustainability objectives, and we will be exploring the building’s journey from the industrial through to the green revolution through new storytelling to inspire innovators of the future.”
Chair of the Science Museum Group, Dame Mary Archer, said: “We are deeply grateful to the Law Family Charitable Foundation for this gift which will have an enormous impact on the museum’s visitors – especially younger audiences who will experience the exciting and extensive learning programme we can now create.
“This donation allows us to take a huge step forward in bridging the skills gap and making this a world-leading city for STEM excellence, where young people are inspired by the opportunities a future in STEM can offer. The Power Hall learning programme will do exactly this by showcasing the inspiring accomplishments of those working in STEM careers, both past and present.”
The Law Family Charitable Foundation was set up by CEO of Caxton Associates, Andrew Law and his wife Zoë, a portrait photographer, to provide long-term support for causes that are important to them. It has previously invested in a variety of initiatives with the aim of helping more young people realise their potential through education and access new wide-ranging learning opportunities, as well as health and arts causes.
Andrew Law said: “Zoë and I are delighted to support the regeneration project of the Power Hall. As well as being steeped in history – science and industry in the Greater Manchester region is again of central importance to both further education and help drive economic growth. With this iconic building we hope that many will be inspired to pursue STEM learning and careers.”
The Science and Industry Museum is also pursuing a site-wide decarbonisation project as it works towards an ambitious target of achieving Net Zero by 2033. It is striving to save 515 tonnes of carbon each year from across its site and harness green technology to heat its historic spaces and create a sustainable museum for the future. The Power Hall is a central component in this visionary plan. The museum will be diversifying its approach to the historically coal-fired engines by embracing greener options to recreate the movements that once powered Manchester’s industries. A number of urgent maintenance works and environmental measures are also being carried out on the building, including installing a new electric boiler, upgrading its roof and windows and installing sustainable insulation.
The Science and Industry Museum is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound regeneration project that will see brand new spaces opened and significant improvements made to some of its best-loved galleries. It is continuing to seek additional funding to complete these ambitious plans.