I love museums and always have done but I must say this one in Manchester disappointed me.
The day did not start well when we arrived at Ladywell Park and Ride to get a tram into Manchester only to find that on this particular line last Saturday the trams were being replaced by buses as maintenance work was being done. Obviously I’ve heard the dreaded words for rail travellers before ‘rail replacement buses’ but tram replacement buses was a new one on me, although sadly just as depressing in practice I have to say. It took forever to get into Manchester but we did have a scenic tour of Salford Quays along the way.
Note to self and advisory for others, don’t go to Manchester expecting a tram ride without actually checking that the trams are running.
Having got to the city center the tram replacement bus travelled past the end of Liverpool Road, where we wanted to get off, so we could wave at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and then dropped us off miles away from it having sailed (for whatever reason) past quite a few bus stops. But we finally got to the Museum.
First impressions were good, the entrance hall looked good, the welcome staff were friendly and the toilets and Cafe were fine too. Cafes in Museums have in general usually been poor in the UK and I’ve often wondered if poor spec cafes is actually a specification of the Dept. of Arts and Culture or whatever the UK Government is presently calling it. Don’t get me wrong the small volunteer/private museums where you can get little more than a mug of tea and a Kit Kat are great, it’s just that when you go to a National Museum you expect to be able to eat well at a decent price and rarely is this the case. But to give them their due MOSI had got this aspect pretty well bang on, so congratulations to them.
Sadly, that was about it though for me. We had a good look at the original Stephenson’s Rocket which had pride of place in the museum (it’s only there for another couple of weeks – until the 8th September) then toured the rest of the site. What struck us were the empty spaces especially in the former Liverpool and Manchester Station building and the lack of railway trucks and carriages etc. on the tracks outside of it. The Power Hall was closed for maintenance works and the separate building housing all the aircraft and vintage cars was also the subject of significant maintenance works (although open) and quite obviously an extremely leaky roof.
MOSI seems to pitch itself as a museum of family entertainment with all kinds of activities taking place for youngsters but for the older generations I feel it looks tired and rather empty. I have little doubt that austerity will have played into the the maintenance issues or probably the lack of maintenance (due to lack of money) has led to an almost crisis maintenance regime where things only get fixed when they are really bad. But having said that I’ve been to this museum before, the last time maybe 15 years ago or more and I seem to recall it’s empty spaces from back them.
MOSI, in my view, needs a big injection of cash and a plan to make the best of it’s wide open spaces both inside and outside. Sorry it was a disappointment.