New Prayer Room to open at Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum Manchester Museum will reopen to public on 18 February 2023 following an exciting £15 million transformation. The capital redevelopment project, hello future, has given the museum an unprecedented opportunity to expand its role, reach and relevance, and to become the museum the people of Manchester need. In addition to creating a two-storey extension, there has been extensive reconfiguration of existing spaces and the museum provides new galleries and facilities with a focus on inclusivity, including a prayer room.

Manchester Museum welcomes many thousands of visitors every year, and Manchester is one of the UK’s most diverse cities. Including a prayer room in the museum responds to this. It was the intention from the outset of the transformation project to include a prayer room, however, it was important that the development of the space, including design elements, was done in consultation with people of different faiths and from a range of organisations. The prayer room has been co-designed with museum staff and faith partners. It will be a calm and peaceful space that is available to anyone who wants to use it for prayer, contemplation, or meditation. It will include chairs, room partitions, prayer mats, religious texts, ablution facilities, shoe covers and a shoe rack. For people who do not want to use the prayer room but do require a calm and peaceful space for rest or other reasons, there will be a quiet room.

The museum is committed to being more inclusive and collaborative than ever before. Having listened to advocates with lived experience, there will be inclusive spaces and features throughout the building, including a Changing Places toilet co-designed with Team Joe – one of the museum’s brilliant volunteers, Joe Lisle together with his team. The hello future transformation will also bring uniquely co-produced galleries, including the South Asia Gallery, a British Museum partnership, which is being co-curated with the South Asia Gallery Collective, an inspiring group of community leaders, educators, artists, historians, journalists, scientists, musicians, students and more from Manchester’s South Asian community.

Religion has long been represented across the whole of Manchester Museum and events and programmes around faith have been held in partnership with faith, cultural and community organisations. These include an Iftar in collaboration with the University of Manchester Muslim Chaplain in 2019, as well as celebrating festivals such as Diwali, Eid, and Christmas. Some of the objects in the new spaces hold religious significance as well, such as the beautiful Buddha statue. Manchester Museum will continue to co-create programmes with different groups and look at which religious objects are displayed, to celebrate the role faith plays in peoples’ lives.

Manchester Museum is committed to building better understanding, compassion, and empathy, and foregrounding inclusive narratives and new perspectives, with the hope that when it reopens on 18 February, it will be a place where everyone feels that they belong.