Addressing the Voids

 

New Institution, Old Problem

  Every year, thousands of objects are listed as being available for “de-accessioning”, or removal, from the cultural collections in which they reside. The reasons are many, varying from unsafe storage conditions to shifts in collecting mandates, but the overwhelming reason for disposal is a simple one: lack of storage space.
   
   
Artworks stored in a hallway: just one example of cultural institutions resorting to "triage" methods to deal with storage problems.
   
  Manchester Letherium provides a simple solution to the storage problem because its remit is the accessioning of objects de-accessioned from other institutions. In doing so, Manchester Letherium becomes “a new home for objects destined to be lost to the vagaries of time and misfortune”.

The timely and fortunate provision of public funding and the involvement of key interest groups acting on behalf of major consortia are providing opportunities for innovative architectural propositions within key areas in the Northwest of England. It is within this context that the MLC holds its competition. Seeking to tap into the enthusiasm for new projects, and offering a distinctly new and viable type of institution, the MLC believes that it is well-placed to capitalise on this important moment in Manchester’s dynamic history.
   
 

Collecting Culture

  As the once active site for voracious collecting and building programmes, Manchester is now - like so many other post-industrial cities - being forced to address the voids left by the loss of such activity. In an effort to address this urban legacy, whilst looking ahead to a viable metropolitan future, Manchester Letherium positions itself as a legitimate contender in the city’s long-term strategy for urban revival. Regeneration and urban renewal are driving some of the most dynamic residential and commercial projects within the city core. But the MLC believes that it will take more than increasing density to improve the quality of life in the city. Innovative and dynamic cultural institutions like Manchester Letherium fit this need perfectly.

Working with the same motifs of the circulation of goods, the collecting of culture, the storage of materials, and the inhabitation of urban space, Manchester Letherium will couple the UK’s efforts to redistribute redundant museological objects with Manchester’s local efforts to address its redundant architectural spaces. The competition is based literally and philosophically on the grounds of its institutional predecessor, The Manchester Municipal Letherium [1899-1940], and is conceived as a springboard for the development of a new purpose-built facility. Manchester Letherium will house the nation’s unwanted artefacts using one of Manchester’s forgotten sites: a car park at the corner of Princess and Whitworth Streets, the original site of the of the Manchester Municipal Letherium.
   
 
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