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MOSI Joins National Science Museums

Big news in Visitor Attraction Manchester-ville

Published on December 2nd 2011.

MOSI Joins National Science Museums

MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester) is to join the National Museum of Science and Industry group (NMSI) in January 2012. 

Both organisations have been exploring the benefits of a merger for several months and have now concluded that the cultural similarities and visitor benefits would be significant. 

The merger will create one of the most important museum groups in the world, reaching over five million visitors annually.  

Douglas Gurr, NMSI Chair said; "MOSI holds exceptional collections housed in a landmark location and NMSI is delighted that such an important resource, both for Manchester and the country, is joining the NMSI group."

Peter Fell, MOSI Interim Chair said; "This move will secure the future of MOSI and allow us to continue to celebrate Manchester’s unique contribution to science and industry with the backing of the NMSI group."

The National Museum of Science and Industry is a family of museums which presently include the Science Museum in London and Wroughton, near Swindon; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Confidential will take a look as to why this move has come about and why Peter Fell is quoted as saying, "secure the future of MOSI". The timing of the announcement, late on a Friday is interesting as well. 


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12 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2011.

Mr Fell (I think) was on 5live the other day talking about how funding from DCMS was being cut and the museum would have to become financially self-sustaining in a couple of years time. I imagine this would have something to do with it; national museum status would surely allow it to better access national funding streams.

But I would hope that it is also belated recognition of the importance of its collections. MOSI still feels like something of a cinderella institution even in its home city. Yes it is well attended, well known and well regarded on a regional level but it still feels undervalued. Local people and politicians have spent so long trying to forget, downplay or obliterate Manchester's sometimes grimy but remarkable industrial heritage that it's amazing any remains at all.

The museum should be at the very centre of the city's cultural identity and be the first stop for any tourist to the UK looking to understand the Industrial Revolution or get under the skin of the city. The new gallery is excellent but the museum should have top class interpretation material throughout with extensive displays of the many remarkable and innovative things that originated in the city (I wonder how much of its collection has to sit in an archive). It should by rights be twice the size, projecting its image towards the river front as well as Liverpool St and incorporate as much of the Granada campus as possible before they manage to knock that down too. How about a Museum of Science, Industry and Media?

Wishful thinking aside, I interpret this news as a positive step. A shake up, more secure funding, increased profile and maybe some more inter-museum lending; something to build upon rather than retrenchment, hopefully. Wonder if the Science Museum would be minded to lending out Stephenson's 'Rocket'?

Jonathan SchofieldDecember 2nd 2011.

Museum of Science, Industry and Media. Perfect Anon.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GadgeDecember 6th 2011.

And return it to its previous acronym!

tblzebraDecember 2nd 2011.

I disagree with many of your views about MOSI anon. I'm of the opinion that local people and politicians are proud of the industrial heritage of the city.

How do you know that it isn't the first stop for tourists wanting to know about the industrial revolution and/or Manchester?

In any case, unfortunately the site it inhabits can never compete with fundamentally more important industrial heritage locations of world heritage status, e.g. Ironbridge Gorge, Derwent Valley Mills and New Lanark.

It does have the 1830 railway station (very poorly presented/interpreted) but all the other important 'still in situ' stuff is spread across the city, e.g. in Castlefield and Ancoats.

I'm unsure of the benefit of them taking over the Granada site, apart from gaining the Bonded Goods Warehouse. As a museum they certainly wouldn't be capable of running a successful 'Coronation Street' attraction - that would need an experienced operator like the Merlin Group.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 5th 2011.

I generally agree with your points, Teblzebra but I would argue that to provide a proper and more complete narrative about the industrial revolution, you need not only impressive and historically important monuments, but to be able to provide insight into the lives of important historical figures; prominent engineers, scientists, merchants and such like, ordinary people, well known firms and major major social and political events. Few places are as well placed to do this, pulling together various differently themed strands as as museum such as MOSI in a city such as Manchester. It already does this to an extent of course but it could be so much more. A self-led walking tour of major sites locally and farther afield would then have a lot more meaning.

Your final paragraph I find rather depressing. Not only the assumption that a media themed extension to MOSI should be reduced to a theme park about a soap but that we shouldn't also be concerned to preserve the post war bits of the campus. Granada is up there as one of the city's most important cultural and architectural icons. Where better to tell the story of its output, alongside something of the near 90 year history of the BBC in Manchester, the many hundreds of journalists, editorial staff and print workers involved in producing major local and national newspapers, to display the archives of the Guardian and other important local publications and production companies; Cosgrove Hall, the Mancunian Film co etc; the experience of writers, playwrights, directors and set designers; or to explore the cross pollination of ideas via the theatres, dance halls, cinemas and clubs of Quay Street, Peter Street and Oxford Road. There is a great story there waiting to be curated. All highly fanciful of course, but that's why we call these comments rants rather than realisms, I guess.

Matt WilsonDecember 3rd 2011.

I think that taking over some of the Granada site, including the Coronation Street set, would fit in perfectly with the museum whilst adding a whole new dimension. The history of the TV and radio broadcasting industry in the region is full of interesting, groundbreaking and colourful events and characters. The studios would be the perfect backdrop to tell the story of this important industry in the north west, at a time when MediaCityUK is setting the scene for the future and making Manchester an even more important centre for this industry. Coronation Street would add an extra pull factor to the offering and I don't agree that it needs the merlin group or any other similar owner to make it work as an attraction.

AnonymousDecember 3rd 2011.

MOSI don't have the resources and/or personnel to manage an attraction with large visitor numbers.

Calum McGDecember 5th 2011.

But large visitor numbers would generate more revenue (paid-for attractions, shops, cafe...?) which would help fund more staff? Or am I missing the point?

AnonymousDecember 5th 2011.

My point Ali is that the fundamental aims, objectives and raisin d'être of MOSI are that of a museum, which doesn't ever, as far as I'm aware, sit comfortably with those of a mainstream profit-driven attraction, (think Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the Tower of London or Alton Towers).

For example some curators in museums can't stand the fact that the (plebeian) public get access to, or perish the thought touch, their precious things. MOSI employs examples of such people; I've met them.

They also aren't geared up to plan for or manage huge daily visitor numbers. The term 'fire-fighting' comes to mind. If they employed suitably experienced operational management then maybe that would change, but I doubt that would happen, unfortunately.

Simon TurnerDecember 5th 2011.

Most of Manchester's funded cultural instituitons haven't got the sharp minds and the hunger to find and nurture an audience. They're too safe and feather-bedded. Bring some commercial nous to bear, it would do them good.

Duke FameDecember 6th 2011.

I'm with Simon Turner, bring in a bit of entrepreneurial spirit. Privatise it

Kevin PeelDecember 9th 2011.

Good news.

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