M Shed is a museum in Bristol, England, located on Prince's Wharf beside the Floating Harbour in a dockside transit shed formerly occupied by Bristol Industrial Museum. The museum's name is derived from the way that the port identified each of its sheds. M Shed is home to displays of 3,000 Bristol artefacts and stories, showing Bristol's role in the slave trade and items on transport, people, and the arts.
The museum opened in June 2011, with exhibits exploring life and work in the city. In its first year, 700,000 people visited the new museum.
There is a shop, learning space and cafe and admission is free.
On the quayside outside the museum are four electrically powered cargo cranes built in 1951 by Stothert & Pitt. A short distance to the west is a much older crane, the sole surviving operational example of a Fairbairn steam crane. Built in 1878, also by Stothert & Pitt, it was in regular use until 1973 loading and unloading ships and railway wagons with loads up to 35 tons. It has been restored and is in working order, operating on some bank holidays and the Bristol Harbour Festival.
The Bristol Industrial Museum closed in 2006 and was transformed into the M Shed. The conversion was designed by Lab Architecture Studio. It was expected to cost £27 million including a grant of £11.3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Another £1.39 million of HLF funding was announced in April 2011. It reopened in June 2011. In its first year, 700,000 people visited the new museum.
Bristol Harbour Railway offers train rides along the quayside on bank holidays, using restored steam locomotives and rolling stock.
Moored in front of the new museum is the collection of historic vessels, which included the 1934 fireboat Pyronaut and two tugs: John King built as a diesel tug in 1935 and Mayflower, the world's oldest surviving steam tug built in 1861.
There are three main galleries: Bristol Places, Bristol People and Bristol Life, each telling a story of Bristol, and containing a mixture of media.
Among the 3,000 exhibits of material on display are models of Nick Park’s Oscar-winning animated duo Wallace and Gromit, a 10m long mural by local graffiti artists, and pink spray painted record decks (1980) courtesy of Massive Attack, the trip hop trio from Bristol. The band’s experimental sound would play a big part in the formation of the city’s club scene in the 1980s and 1990s.
On display are newspaper clippings from the city’s landmark political episodes, including a triumphant moment for the fight against racial prejudice in 1963 when a group of West Indian workers led a bus boycott after the city Omnibus Company refused to recruit black workers. The dispute was championed by Labour socialist Tony Benn and would help contribute to a decrease in racial discrimination in Britain.
A centrepiece of the galleries is a huge mural entitled Window on Bristol, painted by local artists Andy Council and Luke Palmer. It depicts Bristol's buildings in the form of a huge graffiti-esque dinosaur.
The TEDxBristol, held on the 8th Sept 2011, themed 18 minute talks around the subjects of Sustainability, Innovation and Creativity, was hosted at M Shed, and an audio capture of the learning from these presentations was recorded by the BBC.
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