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Community at the heart of project bringing new life to the home of Manchester’s fashion archive

For 70 years the Platt Hall Gallery, at the crossroads of Rusholme, Fallowfield and Moss Side, has housed Manchester Art Gallery’s costume collection.

Generations of Mancunians have been able to visit the gallery since its inception to see clothing ranging from 17th century dress, to modern day sports and workwear.

In order to safeguard this collection for future generations the gallery is now closed as work gets under way to carry out vital repairs on its roof, as well as improve its accessibility and ensure the gallery reflects the diverse and creative community it resides in.

The vision for Platt Hall is to turn the gallery into a place which inspires creative activity, not just serve as a visitor attraction. The renovation work when completed will present the gallery as a blank canvas, ready to be turned into a transformative space, to be shaped and defined by the people who use it.

The aim is to be more inclusive, address local needs and be a community-generated and resident-focused museum.

The Gallery of Costume was founded in 1947 when Manchester acquired the large private collection of costume which Drs Willet and Phillis Cunnington had amassed during the 1930s, and which concentrated on ordinary dress.

Since then it has significantly expanded with numerous acquisitions including a current Heritage Lottery Fund grant to collect couture fashion. The collection will be moved to Manchester Art Gallery where it will be the subject of a new public display in 2021.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, said: “This is an exciting time for Platt Hall as it moves into the next stage of its long history.
“One of the great strengths of Manchester is how culturally accessible it is, and what this project at Platt Hall demonstrates is Manchester City Council’s ongoing commitment to this ideal. The nature of art and culture is fluid and the galleries and exhibitions in our city should aspire to be the same.
“We have never been afraid to try something new in this city and I have high hopes that once the transformation of Platt Hall is complete, it will set a fine example for others to follow.