This is a slight misnomer, it is actually the University of Manchester Museum. Which explains why, rather than being dedicated to aspects of Manchester life it is a museum of natural history. The museum's first collections were assembled by the Manchester Society of Natural History formed in 1821 with the purchase of the collection of John Leigh Philips. In 1850 the collections of the Manchester Geological Society were added. By the 1860s both societies encountered financial difficulties and, on the advice of the evolutionary biologist Thomas Huxley, Owens College (now the University of Manchester) accepted responsibility for the collections in 1867. The museum in Peter Street was sold in 1875 after Owens College moved to new buildings in Oxford Street. The college commissioned Alfred Waterhouse, architect of London's Natural History Museum, to design a museum to house the collections for the benefit of students and the public on a site in Oxford Road (then Oxford Street). The Manchester Museum was opened to the public in 1888. At the time, the scientific departments of the college were immediately adjacent, and students entered the galleries from their teaching rooms in the Beyer Building. Two subsequent extensions mirror the development of its collections. The 1912 pavilion was largely funded by Jesse Haworth, a textile merchant, to house the archaeological and Egyptological collections acquired through excavations he had supported. The 1927 extension was built to house the ethnographic collections. The Gothic Revival street frontage which continues to the Whitworth Hall has been ingeniously integrated by three generations of the Waterhouse family.
There are galleries for Anthropology, Archaeology, Archery (Ingo Simon donated his collection detailing the history and development of bows), Botany, Earth sciences, Entomology, Numismatic collection, Mammals, Birds, Corals, Bryozoa, Molluscs, Spirit collection, and Microcope slides. Manchester Museum is home to one of the largest and most important collections of ancient Egyptian artefacts in the UK. The collection includes objects from prehistoric Egypt (c. 10,000 BC) to the Byzantine era, up to around AD 600. One of the most popular and distinctive of all the Museum’s galleries, the Vivarium is dedicated to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians. It is home to many species of frogs, reptiles and lizards from South America, Australia and Madagascar, allowing visitors to experience the thrill of a first-hand encounter with some of the rarest creatures on the planet. The Museum is one of the very few that boasts a comprehensive collection of live reptiles on display and which also plays a leading role in the conservation of some of the world’s most endangered amphibians. Visitors to the newly redeveloped Vivarium (which opened in autumn 2013) can find better displays, enhanced interpretation and most significantly are able to see more of the important conservation work that usually takes place behind the scenes. The Vivarium and its staff play a pioneering role in protecting critically endangered species. For example, the Museum is part of a consortium of institutions worldwide that are carrying out essential work in Europe and Costa Rica in an effort to save one very rare amphibian - the Lemur Leaf Frog (Agalychnis lemur). Within Costa Rica, this small frog is found only in one last remaining area. As well as supporting the frog’s survival in the wild, Manchester Museum are responsible for establishing the international captive breeding programme for the species to ensure its long-term survival. The museum is step free, with an automatic door. Lift access to all floors. Accessible toilets located throughout the Museum. Guide and hearing dogs are welcome and water bowls are available from the Information Desk. Available from the information desk: Free wheelchairs available to borrow; Large print maps; Raised images of a selection of the objects. Object handling tables: these can be found around the Museum daily between 11am and 3pm. You can handle objects from the collection and raised images of objects from the collection, all explained by the Museum volunteers. If you would like to handle objects that are not normally found on the object handling tables, please let them know before your visit and they will do their best to accommodate your request.
Location : The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL
Transport: Manchester Oxford Road (National Rail). Bus routes 15, 18, 38, 41, 42, 43, 44, 53,111, 142, 143, 197, X41 and X57 stop nearby on Oxford Road.
Opening Times: Daily 10:00 to 17:00
Tel: 0161 275 2634