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Old: meet new

Alfred Waterhouse was one of the most celebrated architects of the Victorian era, a pioneer of the Gothic Revival style and the man responsible for Manchester Town Hall, London’s Natural History Museum – and the glorious, Hogwarts-esque design of much of The University of Manchester’s Oxford Road campus.

The funny thing is, until very recently, the top floor of Manchester Museum didn’t do justice to Alfred’s original designs. The space now occupied by The Study was dark and uninviting, its Victorian features obscured by ugly partitions or layers of paint. That’s all changed, as a big part of our project has focused on the restoration of the 1885, Grade II*-listed building.

Now, new roof lights and windows let the light in. Alfred’s terracotta floor tiles have been uncovered. The ebony-black display cases that cluster around the central atrium have been painstakingly restored, while decorative elements, such as patterned metalwork on the stairs, have influenced the design of new parts of The Study. We have reintroduced colour, too, the shades based on those found in other Waterhouse buildings. It is both a sensitive restoration and a bold one – because, as you’ll discover when you visit, The Study is most definitely not all about the old.