Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery (MAG) houses the city’s most important fine and decorative art works, with a collection covering over six centuries up to the present day. The gallery attracts over 400,000 visits each year and reopened in 2002 after undergoing a significant refurbishment and expansion programme that transformed it into an award-winning building.

Outside Atrium

Julie’s Bicycle carbon audit on the gallery revealed that they had a 12% reduction in GHG emissions since 2011 and have already achieved their target of an annual CO2e reduction of 7% by 2020.

Manchester Art Gallery’s green team has implemented a series of environmental actions informed by a sustainability strategy. They have gained approval for low energy gallery lighting to be installed, funded by Manchester City Council’s (MCC) ‘Invest to Save’ scheme for MCC funded buildings, and have been particularly impressed by the colour rendering of the Xicato Artist Series LEDs and their suitability for light sensitive museum objects. Through the scheme the gallery has borrowed £96,000 on a five-year payback scheme but estimates that this will be paid back within a 13 months due to energy savings and lower maintenance costs.

Other initiatives that are now being investigated by Manchester Art Gallery for further ‘Invest to Save’ applications include: replacing the chillers with energy efficient turbo chillers (estimated to reduce energy costs by £30,000 per annum and maintenance costs by £20,000 per annum on a four-year payback scheme); and exploring ways to reduce air exchange in the building by moving the entrance and retrofitting revolving doors.

The green team are undertaking a pilot in one of the contemporary galleries to explore the benefits of replacing fixed-point temperature and humidity control with a dead band. They are exploring possible impact on artworks, and how microclimates can be developed to safeguard the small number of works that require tighter environmental controls. This pilot also involves visitor consultation to determine people’s perception of the environment and the results from this will inform how environmental parameters are set. They are also undertaking an occupancy survey of all staff areas, with a view to moving away from air conditioning in back of house areas and encouraging appropriate ‘seasonal dressing’.

Manchester Art Gallery has also participated in a EU-funded ‘Save Energy’ project with Manchester Digital Development Agency. They explored the psychology of behaviour change and how live energy monitoring data and digital technology could engage and empower users to change the way they behave in the workspace.

Through the Small Change, Big Change fund an avid cyclist on the MAG Visitor Services Team is leading on a project to buy three bicycles for staff to use instead of taxis or buses for local meetings, bringing down cost and emissions, and encouraging healthier modes of travel. Phase 2 of the project will also see secure lockers and a bike shelter provided.


MAG is a member of the Manchester Cultural Leaders’ Environmental Forum (MCLEF), a partnership facilitaed by Julie's Bicycle.

MCLEF grew out of a desire to promote and share good environmental practice, and the recognition that good practice can be significantly enabled by working collaboratively. Read more >


Updated 14/08/2012