Manchester Art Gallery

Power down


 light fitting by General Electric Company (GEC)

Earlier this year, Clare Wiley from Platform interviewed Amanda Wallace, Head of Asset Management and Catriona Morgan, Principal Manager Visitor Services, about the dramatic reduction in energy consumption at the gallery in the last 5 years.

What is the biggest sustainability challenge for an organisation such as this?

Amanda Wallace: This is an enormous complicated building. In 2002 we came out of a £35m investment with a building with full air-conditioning, and incredibly complicated systems that were reliant on external consultants to be able to manage.

Catriona Morgan: There was just an acceptance about what was needed to run the building, and saying our energy bills will be half a million pounds a year and there’s nothing we can do about it – rather than going back to basics and seeing what we could get away with.

AW: [The investment came] just before that big move towards environmental sustainability, so it was taken as a given from the outset that there would be museum standards, ie 55 degrees, plus or minus 5%, relative humidity. We needed our plant to be able to deliver that.
They massively underestimated it and didn’t take into account that the costs of gas and electricity would go up. It was idealistic projection. We had complex building, and we were conscious that things were starting to fail.

So in 2009 we began our sustainability drive. At that point we had just received a G rating on our Display Energy Certificate – that’s the same as the Tate and other large galleries. Since then, we’ve achieved a 37% reduction in energy consumption. In real terms it’s actually 43% because over that period of time we’ve increased our opening hours.

Read the rest of this interview at Platform.


Amanda Wallace, Deputy Director
Catriona Morgan, Principal Operations Manager


Light fitting, General Electric Company, 1950-1960

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