Platt Hall is a former textile merchant's house in Rusholme, Manchester, where it has stood for over 250 years. It was built as a family home but has also been a tea room, a work camp, a police HQ, an art school and an art gallery. For 70 years it was Manchester's much-loved Gallery of Costume, until its closure in 2017. Now, the team at Manchester City Galleries are working with the local neighbourhood to re-imagine its future as a place of community, making, creativity and imagination. The work is informed by the ideas of the Arte Útil (Useful Art) movement and asks how we can work within the limitations of an historic building and collection to create a genuinely 'useful museum' for a 21st century community.
I recently began working with the team as evaluator and 'critical friend' for the Platt Hall In-between project. It's a fascinating brief: I'm exploring not only (or mainly) the outcomes of their work in the local area but focusing on the process the team are going through and working with them to ask questions, question assumptions and provoke debate. Yes, there'll be an evaluation report, but it may well contain as many questions as there are answers.
Take a look at the project website for more information and keep an eye on my blog where I'll be sharing ideas as the work unfolds.