Major fundraising boost for Manchester Museum’s new South Asia Gallery

A major gift by Shalni and Simon Arora means that Manchester Museum’s plan to develop a permanent gallery on South Asia takes a great step forward.

A significant gift from the Aroras through the Savannah Wisdom Foundation and B&M Retail is the first step towards raising the remaining funds for the Gallery, which will be the first in the country to present both the deep history of South Asia, and the story of the diaspora community in the UK.

Developed in partnership with the British Museum, the Gallery will form the centrepiece of the Museum’s new £12.4 million capital expansion, which will include a much larger space for temporary exhibitions, a new entrance and expanded public facilities. Work will commence in May 2018 and the finished building will reopen in early 2020. 90% of the funding has now been committed from Government, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), University of Manchester, foundations and individuals. Development funding of £406,400 has been awarded from HLF to help Manchester Museum progress its plans to apply for a full grant at the end of August.

Bringing together the very best of Manchester Museum’s own South Asian collections and world-class sculpture, textiles and artefacts from the British Museum, the Gallery will explore the history and culture of South Asia and its relationship with communities in the North West of England. It will be developed in close consultation with local communities and done in a way that will engage the city-region’s diverse communities, day visitors and tourists.

It is particularly appropriate to site this gallery in Manchester, as nearly 9% of the Greater Manchester population is of South Asian origin. This has come about because of the strong historic links between Manchester and the Indian sub-continent through the textile trade. However, their culture and history has been under-represented, and bringing the British Museum’s collection to northern England provides an opportunity to address this.

The Director of Manchester Museum, Dr Nick Merriman, said ‘We are absolutely delighted at this generous commitment of support from Shalni and Simon Arora. It demonstrates the great enthusiasm this project is generating, and we hope that this lead gift will prompt others to join in to help realise this significant project’.

Shalni Arora said ‘This is an important project for our city and region, celebrating the history and culture we all have in common.  The space will also allow the South Asian diaspora in particular to connect with its identity, something we risk losing through the generations.’