A flourish straight from the catwalks of Milan has created a gleaming new gallery for Manchester. Villa Eugénie, a production company which counts Hugo Boss, Dior Homme, Yohji Yamamoto and Chanel among its former commissioners, has made the £400,000 Living Worlds space its first permanent exhibition design, replacing the Animal Life section.
Planners at the Grade II-listed building say the development represents a “seismic shift”. “This is a radical departure for the museum and the presentation of natural specimens across the world,” said Head of Collections Henry McGhie.
“We are trying to get people beyond thinking of the environment as an ‘issue’, but to connect their lives with nature for their health and well being, as much as for the good of the environment. Living World will encourage them to explore their own ideas about how they would like the world to be.”
Etienne Russo, the founder of Villa Eugénie, said it was “a natural decision” to take on the ambitious display.
“The shared concerns we have are dear to me because as a father of three children I want to help make sure their ecological, political and economic future is a little brighter,” he explained, calling it a “beautiful project”.
“My personal ecological concerns have always been based around education, water conservation and the prevention of deforestation.
“I have been lucky enough to meet with the museum's experts on many occasions. Through these shared experiences I have come out richer in knowledge.
"It has encouraged me to come up with concepts that I hope will encourage people to work together every day to make a difference in the natural world.”
Visitors will be able to download a Living Worlds app on their mobile phones providing more information, and tablets dotted around the gallery will augment the exhibition.
“Building an emotional attachment to our display is absolutely essential to us,” added McGhie.
“Villa Eugénie’s plans are as daring as they are beautiful, and we sense that in the bold creation of the Living Worlds Gallery.
“The Manchester Museum will lead the way in which museums can help realise a sustainable future for the planet.”
- Open 10am-5pm (11am-4pm Sunday, Monday and Bank Holidays). Admission free.