Manchester Art Gallery

Platt Hall redevelopment: towards a community generated museum

 

This project is part of a new Vision for Manchester Art Gallery which promotes art as a tool for social change and campaigns for the right for all Manchester citizens to live creative and healthy lives.

Generations of Mancunians have been able to visit the gallery since its inception to see clothing ranging from 17th century dress, to modern day sports and workwear.

In order to safeguard this collection for future generations Platt Hall is now closed as work gets under way to carry out vital repairs on its roof, as well as improve its accessibility and ensure the gallery reflects the diverse and creative community it resides in.

The vision for Platt Hall is to turn the gallery into a place which inspires creative activity, not just serve as a visitor attraction. The renovation work when completed will present this historic house in a fresh new light, as new clean space filled with potential, ready to be turned into a transformative space, to be shaped and defined by the people who use it.

Platt Hall sits at the cross roads of the neighbourhoods of Rusholme, Fallowfield and Moss Side in South Manchester. We will work with these diverse communities to build a new kind of institution that will have a transformational impact on this locality, but also have significance for the wider city. This has the potential to show a clear way to expand the city’s cultural offer, in the city’s neighbourhoods as well as its centre, to be more inclusive and to addresses local needs and priorities and the ambition the City Council has for its residents.

Alistair Hudson, Director of Manchester Art Gallery

The Gallery of Costume was founded in 1947 when Manchester acquired the large private collection of costume which Drs Willet and Phillis Cunnington had amassed during the 1930s, and which concentrated on ordinary dress.

Since then it has significantly expanded with numerous acquisitions including a current Heritage Lottery Fund grant to collect couture fashion. Elements of the costume collection will be exhibited in a new specific gallery at Manchester Art Gallery from 2021.

We’ll be documenting both the repairs to and plans for the redevelopment of Platt Hall and share these here and on our social media channels.

 

 

 

 

10 responses to “Platt Hall redevelopment: towards a community generated museum”

  1. Mary Gifford says:

    Sounds very interesting. I quote “Platt Hall is now closed as work gets under way to carry out vital repairs on its roof, as well as improve its accessibility and ensure the gallery reflects the diverse and creative community it resides in”.

    Can you please ensure that access for blind and visually impaired visitors is included in not only the physical sense of adaptations to the building, but also to include these people within the definition of diverse community?

    The blind and VI people of the Henshaws Society for Blind People, supported by volunteer driver/ guides enjoyed many visits to Platt Hall and enjoyed hearing the exhibitions audio described together with touch and handling sessions of clothes and accessories like shoes and handbags. The Costume Gallery has a wealth of costumes in store which can be touched under supervision, and is a rare museum where there are things to be touched. I do hope that we will be catered for in the new Platt Hall.

    • Martin Grimes says:

      Hi Mary, thank you for your feedback which we’ll pass on to the staff involved. The direction of the development we very much aim to be community driven and of course that community should and will be considered in its widest sense. Thank you.

  2. Kyra says:

    Hi

    When will Platt Hall reopen? Thank you

    • Martin Grimes says:

      Hi Kyra, the hall currently has limited public access, focusing on a series of community engagement events to feed into the development plans for a new public offer at Platt Hall. The transformation of the hall is dependent on capital funding, and will be a phased development in collaboration with the public. We hope to be able to open the building more fully towards the end of next year as part of the development process – not as the ‘Gallery of Costume’, but as a new museum venue that draws across all of Manchester Art Gallery’s collection. A new dedicated gallery for the display of the costume collection at MAG, supported by the Clothworkers Guild, will open in 2021.

  3. Abi says:

    Ugh, community driven… can’t wait. Just trying to imagine the contemporary nonsense. I’m so disappointed, Manchester offers very little historical works, do we need more tat

    • Martin Grimes says:

      Hi Abi,

      Apologies for the time taken to respond directly to your comments, we hope that the extensive reply below will assuage your concerns and give some historical and practical insight into the issues facing us at the moment.

      Thankyou for your comment and for your concern about the collections at Platt Hall. Please be reassured that the collections are at the heart of Platt Hall’s redevelopment. Without the collections there would be no Manchester Art Gallery and no Platt Hall – for this reason we are absolutely committed not just to their safekeeping and preservation for the future, but also to enabling as many people as possible to experience, enjoy and make use of them in the present. This is why we took the decision to close the Gallery of Costume and re-think the way all our collections are housed, managed and used.

      When Platt Hall first opened as the Gallery of Costume in 1947, the collections were a fraction of the size they are now. The reality is, the Hall simply cannot accommodate all the material that is currently housed here without causing significant long term damage. Over the past two years, a major conservation and re-housing project has begun which will ensure the collection is properly cared for and that future generations can make the most of this unique and precious resource. As this progresses, it will require significantly more space than Platt Hall can provide. The nature of the material also requires a controlled storage environment to prevent damage from pests, heat, light and humidity. This is almost impossible to achieve on the scale required within a historic building like Platt Hall. It is our duty, both to those who donated and bequeathed their collections to the city in the past, and to those who might benefit from them in the future, to respond appropriately to these challenges and where necessary, make difficult decisions.

      We know people will be saddened by the loss of the Gallery of Costume, which is a significant piece of Manchester’s cultural history. However, bringing the collection back into the context of the city’s wider art and design collections offers exciting opportunities to do new things with it and reach a wider audience. The first step in this is a dedicated Fashion Gallery at Manchester Art Gallery, which will open in February 2021 with a major exhibition on male fashion and ‘dandy style’. The collection is, as you say, a vital and precious resource – alongside the public programme we are also reviewing our entire collections management strategy in order to house and protect it more securely for the future.

      In the meantime, essential work is going on at Platt Hall to preserve this beautiful building as a key cultural space in the heart of south Manchester. Platt Hall is held in great affection by people locally – it is part of the heritage of Rusholme, Fallowfield and Moss Side. As such, we want to work with the communities that surround the Hall to ensure that what happens here in the future best serves the needs and interests of those communities, as well as residents and visitors to the city more widely. This is what we mean by community-generated. The collections (including but not limited to costume) will be central to this. They remain the unique asset that makes us who we are, and they offer unlimited potential for contributing to the health, wealth and creativity of the city. Platt Hall itself is also part of the collection, a beautiful 18th century house set within the open green space of Platt Fields Park. Its redevelopment is also about enabling people to experience the unique qualities of the building itself, to maximise its potential as a calm and contemplative sanctuary in the midst of city life.

      We are at the start of this programme and it could develop in multiple ways. We do not want to make assumptions or pre-empt how Platt Hall will develop, but to work with our neighbours to give Platt a viable and secure long term future. If you are local to the area and would like to be part of this process, you would be most welcome to join us. Contact us via manchesterartgallery@manchester.gov.uk.

  4. Helena Louring Jensen says:

    You’re axing the costume gallery in favour of some sort of nebulous “community generated” nonsense? What an utterly appalling (doubtless temporarily PC and trendy) idea. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. That costume collection is a vital and precious resource for today and more importantly for future generations and turning your back on it is an appalling abnegation of your responsibilities. History will not judge your weakness and poor judgment kindly.

    • Martin Grimes says:

      Hi Helena,

      Apologies for the time taken to respond directly to your comments, we hope that the extensive reply below will assuage your concerns and give some historical and practical insight into the issues facing us at the moment.

      Thankyou for your comment and for your concern about the collections at Platt Hall. Please be reassured that the collections are at the heart of Platt Hall’s redevelopment. Without the collections there would be no Manchester Art Gallery and no Platt Hall – for this reason we are absolutely committed not just to their safekeeping and preservation for the future, but also to enabling as many people as possible to experience, enjoy and make use of them in the present. This is why we took the decision to close the Gallery of Costume and re-think the way all our collections are housed, managed and used.

      When Platt Hall first opened as the Gallery of Costume in 1947, the collections were a fraction of the size they are now. The reality is, the Hall simply cannot accommodate all the material that is currently housed here without causing significant long term damage. Over the past two years, a major conservation and re-housing project has begun which will ensure the collection is properly cared for and that future generations can make the most of this unique and precious resource. As this progresses, it will require significantly more space than Platt Hall can provide. The nature of the material also requires a controlled storage environment to prevent damage from pests, heat, light and humidity. This is almost impossible to achieve on the scale required within a historic building like Platt Hall. It is our duty, both to those who donated and bequeathed their collections to the city in the past, and to those who might benefit from them in the future, to respond appropriately to these challenges and where necessary, make difficult decisions.

      We know people will be saddened by the loss of the Gallery of Costume, which is a significant piece of Manchester’s cultural history. However, bringing the collection back into the context of the city’s wider art and design collections offers exciting opportunities to do new things with it and reach a wider audience. The first step in this is a dedicated Fashion Gallery at Manchester Art Gallery, which will open in February 2021 with a major exhibition on male fashion and ‘dandy style’. The collection is, as you say, a vital and precious resource – alongside the public programme we are also reviewing our entire collections management strategy in order to house and protect it more securely for the future.

      In the meantime, essential work is going on at Platt Hall to preserve this beautiful building as a key cultural space in the heart of south Manchester. Platt Hall is held in great affection by people locally – it is part of the heritage of Rusholme, Fallowfield and Moss Side. As such, we want to work with the communities that surround the Hall to ensure that what happens here in the future best serves the needs and interests of those communities, as well as residents and visitors to the city more widely. This is what we mean by community-generated. The collections (including but not limited to costume) will be central to this. They remain the unique asset that makes us who we are, and they offer unlimited potential for contributing to the health, wealth and creativity of the city. Platt Hall itself is also part of the collection, a beautiful 18th century house set within the open green space of Platt Fields Park. Its redevelopment is also about enabling people to experience the unique qualities of the building itself, to maximise its potential as a calm and contemplative sanctuary in the midst of city life.

      We are at the start of this programme and it could develop in multiple ways. We do not want to make assumptions or pre-empt how Platt Hall will develop, but to work with our neighbours to give Platt a viable and secure long term future. If you are local to the area and would like to be part of this process, you would be most welcome to join us. Contact us via manchesterartgallery@manchester.gov.uk.

  5. Vanessa Anderson says:

    What happens to the costume collection. An important tool for research into all areas of social (community) history?

    • Martin Grimes says:

      Hi Vanessa,

      Apologies for the time taken to respond directly to your comments, we hope that the extensive reply below will assuage your concerns and give some historical and practical insight into the issues facing us at the moment.

      Thankyou for your comment and for your concern about the collections at Platt Hall. Please be reassured that the collections are at the heart of Platt Hall’s redevelopment. Without the collections there would be no Manchester Art Gallery and no Platt Hall – for this reason we are absolutely committed not just to their safekeeping and preservation for the future, but also to enabling as many people as possible to experience, enjoy and make use of them in the present. This is why we took the decision to close the Gallery of Costume and re-think the way all our collections are housed, managed and used.

      When Platt Hall first opened as the Gallery of Costume in 1947, the collections were a fraction of the size they are now. The reality is, the Hall simply cannot accommodate all the material that is currently housed here without causing significant long term damage. Over the past two years, a major conservation and re-housing project has begun which will ensure the collection is properly cared for and that future generations can make the most of this unique and precious resource. As this progresses, it will require significantly more space than Platt Hall can provide. The nature of the material also requires a controlled storage environment to prevent damage from pests, heat, light and humidity. This is almost impossible to achieve on the scale required within a historic building like Platt Hall. It is our duty, both to those who donated and bequeathed their collections to the city in the past, and to those who might benefit from them in the future, to respond appropriately to these challenges and where necessary, make difficult decisions.

      We know people will be saddened by the loss of the Gallery of Costume, which is a significant piece of Manchester’s cultural history. However, bringing the collection back into the context of the city’s wider art and design collections offers exciting opportunities to do new things with it and reach a wider audience. The first step in this is a dedicated Fashion Gallery at Manchester Art Gallery, which will open in February 2021 with a major exhibition on male fashion and ‘dandy style’. The collection is, as you say, a vital and precious resource – alongside the public programme we are also reviewing our entire collections management strategy in order to house and protect it more securely for the future.

      In the meantime, essential work is going on at Platt Hall to preserve this beautiful building as a key cultural space in the heart of south Manchester. Platt Hall is held in great affection by people locally – it is part of the heritage of Rusholme, Fallowfield and Moss Side. As such, we want to work with the communities that surround the Hall to ensure that what happens here in the future best serves the needs and interests of those communities, as well as residents and visitors to the city more widely. This is what we mean by community-generated. The collections (including but not limited to costume) will be central to this. They remain the unique asset that makes us who we are, and they offer unlimited potential for contributing to the health, wealth and creativity of the city. Platt Hall itself is also part of the collection, a beautiful 18th century house set within the open green space of Platt Fields Park. Its redevelopment is also about enabling people to experience the unique qualities of the building itself, to maximise its potential as a calm and contemplative sanctuary in the midst of city life.

      We are at the start of this programme and it could develop in multiple ways. We do not want to make assumptions or pre-empt how Platt Hall will develop, but to work with our neighbours to give Platt a viable and secure long term future. If you are local to the area and would like to be part of this process, you would be most welcome to join us. Contact us via manchesterartgallery@manchester.gov.uk.

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