Whitworth Art Gallery

Whitworth: Past, Present and Future: An outdoor tour

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Gallery in the Park

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With warmer weather on the way we invite you to join us for Whitworth: Past, Present & Future: An outdoor tour for those interested in finding out more about the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester’s gallery in the park, whilst we undergo a £15 million redevelopment (opening Saturday, 25 October).

Sarah Sanders from the Visitor Services team leads the first tour Sarah Sanders from the Visitor Services team leads the first tour

The Whitworth’s very own Visitor Team will take you back through the Gallery’s illustrious 125 year history, from its humble beginnings as Grove House, a gallery established ‘for the perpetual gratification of the people of Manchester’, right up to the present day. Hear about what the redeveloped Whitworth will offer: brand new exhibition spaces, a fabulous art garden designed by Sarah Price, the innovative Clore Learning Studio and more… All this whilst taking a stroll through Whitworth Park, with views of the original façade of the building and encounters with…

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The Roller Racking’s Arrived!

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It’s been a hectic start to 2014 at the herbarium! Following the break for Christmas and New Year we had some fantastic roller racking installed. The racking was salvaged from the Whitworth art gallery following their redevelopment. The room overlooking the Old Quad was cluttered with all sorts of specimens. It was previously home to Algae amongst others in grand old cupboards. It took a while, and a huge moving effort from the team, but after a couple of days we had managed to: temporarily re-house our solander boxes in a temporary makeshift home, clear out the vast runs of journals and books hidden behind shelves and finally we had fully cleared the room ready for the installation team.

Nearing the end of the removal process before installation could begin
Nearing the end of the removal process before installation could begin
Halfway through installation.
Halfway through installation.

Now that the roller racking is installed it allows us to make much more efficient use of the space we have. Our solander box collections can now be stored in a greatly compact way, whilst still allowing access when necessary. There are 8 new shelving units in the roller racking, each with the capacity to store 97 solander boxes. Whilst the permanent occupants of the racking have not yet been decided, the increased storage capacity has allowed us to begin the plans to re-organise the entire collections into a more logical and flowing way

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The job of re-arranging our collections has not been an easy one. Lots of number crunching has taken place. The aim is to get all the collections more efficiently organised and to work the boxes that currently take up our work bench space into the collections on the racking. The project will involve each box in the entire collection moving to a new place. So there is going to be a lot of hard work, moving around and re-jigging in the coming months, but it will worth it in the end.

Sunset on the Quad Room

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Sunset over the Old Quad
Sunset over the Old Quad

It’s the end of an era in the Manchester Museum Herbarium as we have a room cleared in preparation for a new storage system. The Quad Room (overlooking the Old Quadrangle and the John Owens building) was home to the lichen, algae and Leo Grindon cultivated plant collections along with part of the herbarium library. In the last two weeks we have moved them all out so that the old wooden cupboards can be removed. These were built when the collection was stored in a different style and so now that the herbarium sheets are in green solander boxes, the cupboards and shelves don’t make the most efficient use of space.

Leo Grindon cupboards
Leo Grindon cupboards
Central bench
Central bench
Lichen cupboards
Lichen cupboards

In its place, we will be having a compactor system installed and it’s moveable racking should make much better use of this room. These mobile racks are secondhand and have been dismantled from the Whitworth Art Gallery as part of the major refurbishment works. It’ll be the last time we get to see some of these views!

Removing the cupboards
Removing the cupboards

While we’re making changes, not all of our collections will be as accessible as usual. In particular, we don’t currently have access to the lichens, the fungi, the algae or the Leo Grindon Cultivated Plants. However, there is still plenty to see, such as the majority of the flowering plant collections, the ferns, the fruits and seeds and the mosses. While access to the herbarium for visitors will be limited while the work takes place, these collections can still be viewed in our Collections Study Centre.

Lichen and Algae collections in temporary storage
Lichen and Algae collections in temporary storage