Manchester Museum all set to unveil new South Asia Gallery

South Asia Gallery Collective; Courtesy: Maryam Wahid
South Asia Gallery Collective; Courtesy: Maryam Wahid

Manchester Museum’s new South Asia Gallery, a British Museum partnership, is the first permanent gallery in the UK dedicated to the experiences and histories of South Asian diaspora communities.

Manchester Museum, part of the University of Manchester, will reopen to the public on 18 February 2023 following a major redevelopment and this new multilingual gallery will explore the connection between South Asia and Britain’s legacy of Empire, and present fresh perspectives on British and South Asian culture and creativity.

The gallery has been uniquely co-curated by the South Asia Gallery Collective, a group of 30 inspiring individuals including community leaders, educators, artists, historians, journalists and musicians.

Nusrat Ahmed, South Asia Gallery Curator at Manchester Museum, said: “As a first-generation British-born South Asian person, it is really exciting to be part of such a ground-breaking project.


South Asia Gallery Collective; Courtesy: Maryam Wahid
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“The co-curated South Asia Gallery envisages a collaborative, iterative space that will generate new perspectives and connections. We hope to engage further diaspora communities on its opening and support its continual evolution. This personalised approach humanises the gallery, telling stories about real people and their objects.”

Showcasing over 140 historic artefacts from the collections of the Manchester Museum and British Museum, alongside new contemporary commissions and personal objects provided by the Collective, the gallery will present a range of personal stories that provide visitors with a window into South Asia. The gallery’s story-led design will reflect multiple voices and perspectives on South Asia through six overarching themes:

  • Past & Present

  • Lived Environments

  • Innovation & Language

  • Sound, Music & Dance

  • British Asian

  • Movement & Empire

New commissions will populate the space, celebrating contemporary South Asian creativity and innovation, including a rickshaw imported from Bangladesh and decorated by communities in Manchester and a 17-metre-long newly commissioned mural from British artists, The Singh Twins, illustrating an emotional map of South Asian diaspora experience


South Asia Gallery Collective; Courtesy: Maryam Wahid
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A series of events, performance and public programme will launch, with a dedicated performance space at the centre of the gallery, which will be shaped by ideas and contributions from the Collective and programmed in collaboration with both local and international artists and performers.

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