Take a stroll through the Mancunian Innovation District and discover new cultural venues, food pop-ups, plus unusual museum exhibitions.
1 - Oxford Road Corridor
Stretching south from St Peter’s Square in the city centre lies the Oxford Road Corridor, a one square mile area which is home to 42,000 residents, 74,000 students and 8,800 businesses – plus accounts for 20 per cent of the city’s economic output. This collaborative project aims to be “Manchester’s cosmopolitan hub and world-class innovation district” by 2025. This shouldn’t be too hard given its pioneering history – it’s where Rutherford split the atom, Alan Turing invented the modern computer, and graphene was discovered. The area has a campus-like feel, featuring various businesses, academic institutions – including the city’s two universities – and contemporary green spaces. Its impressive cultural venues, many of which are covered here, attract more than two million visitors per year. Ongoing projects include the multi-million-pound Circle Square neighbourhood, located on the site of the former BBC building, which opened in 2021 but is still awaiting F&B venues. Plus, the Manchester Museum is set to reopen in February 2023 following a £13 million redevelopment.
2 - Hatch
Innovation extends beyond academia to exciting dining and entertainment venues. Located under the Mancunian Way flyover on Oxford Road lies Hatch, a food, drink and retail pop-up occupying a series of colourful shipping containers. Since opening in 2018, the site has trebled in size and now features 30 independent traders – from hairdressers to a shoe cleaning boutique and rotating street food stalls. We recommend the plant-based Bondi Bowls for healthy Aussie fast-food – its namesake bowl filled with black rice, kale, edamame, charred corn, hummus and miso dressing is a must – and coffee from Takk espresso bar. There’s no need to restrict yourself to one cuisine as you can order from multiple vendors via the Good Eats app. Enjoy in the open-air courtyard, or on one of its rooftop terraces, accompanied by live music sets. hatchmcr.com
3 - The Whitworth
Part of The University of Manchester, this red brick gallery was founded in 1889 in memory of engineer Sir Joseph Whitworth. A £15 million redevelopment in 2015 saw The Whitworth double in size, making space for its 55,000 works of art, textiles and wallpaper, while also integrating into the neighbouring seven-hectare park, with steel and glass wings overlooking the landscaped gardens. Its collection of approximately 10,000 wallpapers has inspired its latest exhibition Open House, which explores the lives experienced within interiors. The gallery is inviting the public to get involved by sharing photos and anecdotes, with the exhibition set to expand into the neighbouring room – get in touch by email [email protected] Meanwhile, the powerful Still Parents exhibition, run in partnership with Manchester SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity), gives a platform to those who have experienced the loss of a baby. It’s a beautiful, though tragic, display which promotes open conversation through the sharing of personal stories and meaningful artworks or objects chosen by participants. Exit the gallery via the Sarah Price-designed garden, and walk along the south side of the building to see the life-size stainless steel tree by Scottish artist Anya Gallaccio – a tribute to a tree felled during the renovation. whitworth.manchester.ac.uk
4 - Pankhurst Centre
This small museum located at 60-62 Nelson Street is dedicated to the Pankhurst women, located within the former home of the namesake family. The building was saved from demolition in the 1980s and opened to the public in 1987, undergoing a refurbishment last year before reopening with its ‘At Home With The Pankhurst Family’ exhibition. The three rooms explore the lives and achievements of Emmeline and her family, and the formation of the suffragette movement. Highlights include an interactive space with a video detailing their fight for the vote, the pristinely kept Edwardian parlour which housed the first-ever meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union (later known as the suffragettes) in 1903, and the beautiful ‘suffragette garden’ with themed benches. An additional room traces women’s activism in Manchester since 1918, hoping to inspire the next generation of campaigners. The building goes beyond narrating the past – in 2014 it merged with Manchester Women’s Aid and houses its headquarters, supporting victims of domestic abuse and women’s activism in the community. Entry is free, though donations are encouraged, and by pre-booked ticket. Open Thursdays and Sundays 11am-4pm. pankhurstmuseum.com
5 - Cocktails in the clocktower
Finish off your four hours with a well-deserved drink at The Refuge. Return to Oxford Road, and make your way towards the Grade II-listed clocktower building, which originally opened as the headquarters of The Refuge Assurance Company in 1895 and is now occupied by a luxury Kimpton hotel. Pass through its attractive glass-domed lobby and take a left into The Refuge – a stunning 929 sqm area made up of a public bar and dining room, clad with glazed brick, tiles and stained glass, and a leafy courtyard-like winter garden. The bar is a gorgeous setting for daytime coffee and co-working, and, as the night falls, there are DJ sets with delicious cocktails – expect tipples inspired by the area (The Glamour of Manchester, Trafford Sour and Salford Sling), some fantastic non-alcoholic options and small plates. refugemcr.co.uk