Open Call: MSI: Revolutionary Railway


The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) explores how ideas can change the world, from the Industrial Revolution to today.  MSI is part of the Science Museum Group (SMG) and shares in its overarching mission to inspire futures. This project relates especially to one of the core strategic priorities of SMG, namely to ‘Grow our audiences and exceed their expectations’ – we are fundamentally looking to REAlab to pitch and pilot an exceptional visitor experience.  At MSI we are working towards a new vision which will reveal the wonder of our site both in terms of better showcasing its unique historic importance and opening up to the city with new entrances and routes through our public realm.  There is potential to ‘Harness the potential of digital’ (one of SMGs supporting priorities) in service of that vision.


Museum of Science and Industry occupies the site of Liverpool Road station, the Manchester terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  We are working towards a set of experiences named ‘Revolutionary Railroad’ that will engage audiences with this incredible history and the associated transformation of Manchester, showcasing the surviving Grade I listed structures – the 1830 passenger station, warehouse and railway viaduct.

This will be a major capital project delivered in around 5 years’ time.  MSI doesn’t want to wait to start telling this story and wishes to experiment with creative interpretive techniques.  We’d like a REALab team to help us explore and pilot.

POSSIBLE/DESIRED PROJECT OUTCOMES (to be defined with project team)

We would like REALab to explore the frontiers of practice in heritage interpretation, (digital storytelling, itinerant performance etc) and consider which approaches have most potential to deliver content about the Liverpool Road station site for MSIs audiences – pitching one or more creative ideas to pilot.

We aren’t looking for new historical research (though historians are welcome) – the Museum has a good grounding in this and can provide information and advice. The key output following this exploratory phase could be either delivering a brief for a pilot project or generating a ‘scratch’ or beta version of the experience to be tested with MSI audiences as part of our public programme.


  • Erin Beeston, Collaborative Doctoral Researcher has produced a finding aid listing out the sources upon which her thesis Spaces of industrial heritage: a history of uses, perceptions and remaking of the Liverpool Road Station site, Manchester is based and will deliver a site tour for the project team
  • The MSI Audience Plan segmentation and relevant audience intelligence and research will be provided
  • An MSI archives introductory session will be provided and further study area access can be booked in as the project progresses
  • The Revolutionary Railroad team – including interpretation and curatorial specialists – will brief on their thinking so far
  • The Project team may also access and contribute to SMG Digital Lab


  • History / 19th and 20th century British
  • Sciences / science communication
  • Arts & creative industries / creative practice
  • Digital & new technologies / software design
  • Museum studies


In addition to the £1000 team award, successful applicants will have access to tailored professional training in project design and consultancy skills over four sessions within a friendly, cross-disciplinary and trans-institutional environment and benefit from tailored mentoring until project completion.

See our training programme.

See details on how to apply.