A Cargo of Curiosities

A pop-up museum based at the Grade II* listed Alkrington Hall East in Manchester which housed the 18th century Leverian collection. On the 250th anniversary of its foundation the house was reopened to the public (for the first & last time since the original museum closed - the hall is to be sold by the current owners in 2017) to host a community-based project examining the human impulse to collect. The exhibition displayed locally-sourced domestic collections and the stories of their collectors. The project was supported by local interest groups, the University of Manchester Centre for Museology and Chetham’s library with their patron Jeremy Deller.

The project reconnected the local community with Alkrington Hall, introducing it to and re-presenting its history by asking it to build a new collection for a 21st century audience. This pop-up museum examined the notion of collection, and the impulse to collect, through the lens of the original Leverian Museum. Artists worked with local people to exhibit and curate a series of small personal collections ranging from the curious to the commonplace.

Where the Leverian collection created a sense of wonder and a pathway into the unknown for the visitor, this project looked at the act of collection from the very personal beginnings which take place in our own houses. Working closely with the local community, the artists worked to identify those collections, facilitated participants in exploring their personal impulses to collect and encouraged them to develop creative curation skills by documenting and exhibiting their collections as a public installation.

We explored questions around what makes a collection viable and how each collection engages the visitor. We provoked discussion around the nature of museology, art, taste; encouraged public debate of aesthetics, re-engaged the local community with the history and importance of Lever's original collection and nurtured a sense of pride in the autobiographical, authentic experience of the 21st century contributors.

Find out more...

if you want to know more about the Hall, the museum and Ashton Lever then these are a good starting point





  Alkrington Hall East

The exhibition will be housed in the East of the Hall, that is to say the two main rooms to the front of the house – where the Leverian Museum was originally housed – and the hallway of Alkrington Hall East.


Chetham's Library logo

The Library hosted its own parallel collection about historic collectors from Manchester and the wider North. We are proud to have had the internationally renowned artist, Jeremy Deller- patron of Chetham’s Library, on hand for curation advice on this project.

Chetham's Library
Long Millgate
Manchester M3 1SB

Tel: 0161 834 7961 | Fax: 0161 839 5797

www.chethams.org.uk | http://chethamslibrary.blogspot.com

Michael Powell,
Chief Librarian

Fergus Wilde,

Senior Librarian

University of Manchester Centre for Museology

Helen Rees Leahy
Professor of Museology

School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, Room 3.25, Mansfield Cooper Building, University of Manchester

This project was funded by Arts Council England and Middleton Township.