1.Museum of Science & Industry
Manchester’s rich industrial legacy is explored in this excellent museum set within the enormous grounds of the old Liverpool St Station, the oldest rail terminus in the world. The large collection of steam engines, locomotives, and original factory machinery tell the story of the city from the sewers up, while a host of new technology (flight simulator, 4D cinema) look to the future. Take Metrolink to Castlefield or a Metroshuttle.
It’s an all-ages kind of museum, but the emphasis is on making sure the young ‘uns don’t get bored – they could easily spend a whole day poking about, testing an early electric-shock machine here and trying out a printing press there. You can get up close and personal with fighter jets and get to grips with all kinds of space-age technology.
2.People’s History Museum
The story of Britain’s 200-year march to democracy is told in all its pain and pathos at this superb museum, housed in a refurbished Edwardian pumping station. You clock in on the 1st floor (literally: punch your card in an old mill clock, which managers would infamously fiddle with so as to make employees work longer) and plunge into the heart of Britain’s struggle for basic democratic rights, labour reform, and fair pay.
Amid displays like the desk at which Thomas Paine (1737–1809) wrote Rights of Man (1791), and an array of beautifully made and colourful union banners, are compelling interactive displays, including a screen where you can trace the effects of all the events covered in the museum on five generations of the same family.
3.Manchester Art Gallery
A superb collection of British art and a hefty number of European masters are on display at the city’s top gallery. The older wing has an impressive selection that includes 37 Turner watercolours, as well as the country’s best assemblage of Pre-Raphaelite art.
The Gallery of Craft & Design, in the Athenaeum, houses a permanent collection of pre-17th-century art, with works predominantly from the Dutch and early Renaissance masters. The gallery offers tours, which must be pre-arranged. The 20-minute introductory tour is free; an hour-long tour with a museum curator costs £80.
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