Manchester Jewish Museum is poised to reopen its doors following a multimillion-pound redesign and extension project two years in the making.
The only Jewish museum outside of London, Manchester Jewish Museum (MJM) explores stories of migration, communities and identities through over 31,000 objects from personal letters and photographs to more unusual items such as a Herring chopper, a Russian washboard used as a cricket bat, a Hebrew teapot, a suppository mould and even a ceremonial trowel from 1857. Many of these items will go on display for the first time in the new gallery, bringing to life forgotten and untold experiences of Manchester’s Jewish communities.
The Cheetham Hill museum now features a gallery, café, shop and learning studio and kitchen, as well as the restoration of the city’s oldest surviving synagogue. A new café serving kosher-style vegetarian fare, while a learning kitchen offers schools, community groups and local businesses the chance to explore Jewish culture through sharing traditional recipes.
The synagogue and museum have been closed to the public since 2019 to undergo this £6 million redevelopment, with the support of a £3 million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. During the closure, the museum has continued to engage audiences through a pop-up version in Manchester Central Library and its Trailblazer digital season including an online drag quiz and a virtual dining and storytelling experience.
Historic painters and stained-glass experts are among the contractors who have spent the past two years restoring the 19th century Spanish and Portuguese synagogue to its former glory. Sustainable features have been integrated into both the new and the original buildings to prolong longevity and reduce its carbon footprint, while honouring its Grade II listed status.
Max Dunbar, CEO of Manchester Jewish Museum, comments: “After years of planning, fundraising and consultations, plus a global pandemic to navigate through, we cannot believe we are finally here, ready to show the city and the world our beautiful museum.
“We really feel we have something special and unique to share with everyone. Our magnificently restored synagogue is a rare gem and is in itself a living artefact telling the story of Jewish migration from the 1870s. It will sit alongside our contemporary extension, the design of which has been inspired by our synagogue’s stunning Moorish architecture.
“On behalf of everyone at the museum, I’d like to thank all the incredible funders, supporters, partners and project team for getting us to this important moment, at a time when a museum designed to bring people together is now needed more than ever.”
Manchester Jewish Museum will open seven days a week to the public from 2nd July. To book your tickets, visit Manchesterjewishmuseum.com.