Manchester Museum

Image: The Manchester Museum entrance
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Encounter Manchester Museum’s assortment of treasures from the natural world and the many cultures it is home to. Visitor favourites include dinosaurs, mummies and live amphibians and reptiles.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Daily: 10am-5pm
24-26 Dec, 1 Jan: closed

Admission charges

Free entry

Manchester Museum’s collection is made up of 4.5 million items from the natural world and human cultures.

The natural environments collections include Zoology (animals and birds), Vivarium (live amphibians and reptiles), Botany (plants), Entomology (insects), Palaeontology (pre-historic life including fossils and dinosaurs), Geology (the Earth’s materials such as rocks) and Mineralogy (minerals). The human cultures collections include Archaeology (Mediterranean, European and Western Asiatic), Egyptology, Anthropology (people and cultures), Numismatics (money) and Archery.

Made up of a series of impressive Gothic style buildings at the heart of The University of Manchester, the Museum was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in 1885.

The museum’s entire collection is a Designated Collection of national importance.

You can search the Museum's collection via their website - or research objects in the Museum's Collections Study Centre -

Collection details

World Cultures, Weapons and War, Social History, Religion, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Decorative and Applied Art, Costume and Textiles, Coins and Medals, Archives, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • Spider Crab
  • T.rex
  • Vivarium with live snakes, frogs and other reptiles
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Romuald Hazoumè: Dance of the Butterflies

  • 14 February — 31 December 2015 *on now

Dance of the Butterflies is a stunning new art work by one of Africa’s foremost contemporary artists Romuald Hazoumè. It features swarms of multicoloured ‘butterflies’ which will take over the Museum’s Living Worlds gallery, interacting with the Museum’s own collections. Hazoumè, whose work was featured in We Face Forward, the Manchester-wide celebration of West African art and culture in 2012, will return to create this work for Manchester Museum. The hundreds of butterflies are made from off-cuts of vibrant African wax-print fabrics from the artist’s home country of Benin. Dance of the Butterflies represents a very African take on politics, exploitation and the ‘butterfly effect’- the way in which tiny impulses within chaotic systems can lead to unexpectedly serious effects. The display opens to coincide with the reopening of the Whitworth, following a £15million redevelopment.

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Moai heads. Photo by Adam Stanford

Making Monuments on Rapa Nui: Statues from Easter Island

  • 1 April — 6 September 2015 *on now

Making Monuments on Rapa Nui
The Statues from Easter Island
1 April-6 September 2015
Manchester Museum
Free entry

The monumental stone statues of Rapa Nui (named Easter Island by European explorers) in the Pacific are some of the most widely recognised archaeological objects in the world. Based on fieldwork on the island by Professor Colin Richards, an archaeologist at The University of Manchester, the exhibition will take a fresh look at these impressive statues, or ‘moai’. Making Monuments will look at how the statues were made, the role they played in the lives of the islanders, how they were quarried and transported across the island, and what they mean. It will also deconstruct some of the myths about the island, and discuss current theories about the decline of this astonishing culture. As part of the exhibition, Manchester Museum will show one of the statues, Moai Hava, which was collected from Rapa Nui in 1868, and is on loan from the British Museum.

Suitable for

  • Any age


English Corner

  • 2 June 2015 1-2:30pm

Drop-in, free, adults

Free English conversation classes using the Museum’s collection as inspiration for discussion.

Autism Friendly Early Opening: See, Make & Do at the Museum

  • 13 June 2015 9:15-10:30am

Autism Friendly: for families with children with autism and their siblings aged 5-16 with a parent or carer.

Join us for a series of early openings at the Museum aimed at children who have autism and other needs, along with their families and carers.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Baby Explorers

  • 9 June 2015
  • 23 June 2015

10.30-11.15am, 11.30am-12.15pm & 1-1.45pm.
Book on 0161 275 2648 (Bookings will be taken a week in advance from 2pm), free
Sensory play and interactive story sessions for babies who aren't walking yet. Every other Tuesday (except half term school holidays when there are drop-in sensory play sessions 11am-2.30pm).

Rock Drop: Geology Identification Sessions

  • 18 June 2015 2-3pm

Drop-in, free
Our Curator of Earth Sciences, David Gelsthorpe, will be available once a month to answer your questions and identify your rocks and fossils.

photograph of man and child reading

Magic Carpet

  • 29 May 2015 *on now
  • 26 June 2015

10.30-11.30am & 11.30am-12.30pm
Book on 0161 275 2648 (from a week before from 2pm), free, under 5s and their families/carers
Story making and activity sessions. For toddlers up to 5yrs and their families/carers (Young babies welcome with older siblings).

Early Opening for Early Birds

  • 27 June 2015

Drop-in, free, families with children under 5 and their older siblings
Are you and your young children up with the Larks and excited to get out and about and exploring? Come along to Manchester Museum's Living Worlds and Nature Discovery galleries for our early opening for early birds. Enjoy self-led tours, object handling and craft activities. (Just the Living Worlds and Nature Discovery galleries will be open at 9am - you can explore the rest of the Museum from 10am).

Photograph of anakena statues

Half term: Rapu Nui statues

  • 25 — 29 May 2015 *on now

Visit the Museum’s Making Monuments on Rapa Nui exhibition, and find out more about the monumental stone statues (or ‘moai’) of Rapa Nui (named Easter Island by European explorers). Discover the role they played in the lives of the islanders, how they were quarried and transported across the island, and what they mean.

Create statues of your own inspired by objects in the exhibition, including Moai Hava, a statue collected from Rapa Nui in 1868, on loan from the British Museum.

Suitable for


Collection Bites: Egypt under the Roman Empire

  • 3 June 2015 1-2pm

Wed 3 Jun, 1-2pm
Drop-in, free, adults
Dr Roberta Mazza, lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Manchester, will unravel everyday life in Egypt under the Roman empire, from the defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra to the Arab invasion.
Pharaonic Egyptian past is well known and popular among people across the world for the fascination of mummies, tomb treasures and the millennial history of the Egyptian civilization. However, Roberta will also discuss Egypt’s history after the Pharaohs
a story of cultural layering as the region became annexed successively to the Greeks, the Romans and the Arabs
presenting papyrus documents and archaeological objects from the Museum’s collections.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Taster Tours

  • 3 — 4 June 2015 1-1:30pm
  • 10 — 11 June 2015 1-1:30pm
  • 17 — 18 June 2015 1-1:30pm
  • 24 — 25 June 2015 1-1:30pm

Every Wed & Thurs, 1pm
Drop-in (no need to book), free, meet at the Information Desk (Floor G)
Come and join one of our Visitor Services Assistants for a tour and learn more about some of the fascinating objects on display at the Museum. Tours are drop-in and focus on different aspects of the Museum and its collections each time.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Vivarium Tours

  • 4 June 2015 12-1pm
  • 11 June 2015 12-1pm
  • 18 June 2015 12-1pm
  • 25 June 2015 12-1pm

Every Thurs, 12pm
Book on 0161 275 2648, free
Take a tour of one of the most popular and distinctive galleries at Manchester Museum. Explore our comprehensive collection of live reptiles and understand how the Museum is taking a leading role in the conservation of some of the world’s most endangered amphibians.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Secrets of the Natural World

  • 11 June 2015 6-8pm

Thurs 11 Jun, 6-8pm
Book online at or phone 0161 275 2648, free, adults
Curiosity drives scientists and a desire to understand complexity in the natural world. Join us for an evening of science conversation with scientists from The University of Manchester, Richard Bardgett, Reinmar Hager, Jon Pitman and Giles Johnson. Each scientist will be on hand to share their passion for their research, with lightening talks and hands-on demonstrations of their work in understanding complex natural systems, both aboveground and belowground.
“A Journey into the Underworld” will illustrate research around soil ecosystems and carbon cycling, using exhibits of soil profiles and their vast biological diversity.
“Mother Knows Best” will illustrate work around the genetics of social behaviour in animals using live invertebrates and choice chambers along with animated videos.
“A Clean Sweep” will examine the adaptations of plants to natural radiation and their use in bioremediation. Here visitors will be able to investigate bioremediation of natural radiation using Geiger counters in simulated scenarios.
The “The Light Fantastic” will explore how plants respond to their environment, including changing climate, by extracting chlorophylls, measuring chlorophyll absorption spectra and photo.
This event is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of their Summer of Science.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Making Monuments on Rapa Nui: Exhibition tour

  • 16 June 2015 1-2pm

Tues 16 Jun, 1-2pm
Book online at or phone 0161 275 2648, free, adults
Join curator Bryan Sitch for an exhibition tour of Making Monuments on Rapa Nui. Part of Adult Learners Week.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Big Saturday: Ancient Greeks, Myths and Monsters

  • 27 June 2015 11am-4pm

Sat 27 Jun, 11am-4pm
Drop in, free, families
Come along to our family Big Saturday and discover more about the Ancient Greeks. With activities for all the family and objects from the Museum’s collections. Ancient Greek Costume Optional!

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Nature Discovery activities: Paper cut Christmas cards and New Years calendars

  • 20 December 2015

Be inspired by the Museum’s collections and create paper cut Christmas & Thank you cards or New Year’s calendars.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly



Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Big Saturdays

Once a month The Manchester Museum bursts into life for a Big Saturday with art and craft activities, object handling, performance, talks and tours. They run from 11.00-16.00. Big Saturdays also include activities for adults and interested older children.

How to obtain

Most Big Saturday activities are free and drop-in. Some activities may need to be booked on the day and may cost up to £1.50

Discovery Centre

Drop in to the Discovery Centre for drawing and art activities inspired by The Manchester Museum's collection. Open 11.00-16.00 every Sunday, most Saturdays and during the holidays.

How to obtain

Activities at the Discover Centre are free, drop-in and there is no need to book. Contact for more information.

Magic Carpet

On the last Friday of the month, 10.30-11.30am & 11.30am-12.30pm, Magic Carpet introduces Manchester Museum's collection to under 5s with storytelling, art and craft.

How to obtain

Book on 0161 275 2648 a week before the event, free

Manchester Museum
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Greater Manchester
M13 9PL


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General information


Information Line

0161 275 2648

Education Booking Line

0161 275 2630


General Office Fax

0161 275 2676

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.