What is M Shed?
M Shed was opened in June 2011 and is a museum located just down from Brunel’s SS Great Britain on Prince’s Wharf, beside both the Floating Harbour and Wapping Wharf.
In its first year 700,000 people visited M Shed and its displays about life and work in the city.
Unusual in appearance the museum is actually a 1950s transit shed and its name derives from a method used by the port authority, to identify each of their sheds.
Home to a rich collection of archives, objects, art, and stories, M Shed is an expression of 2,000 years' worth of Bristolian history, from prehistoric times to the 21st Century.
What was there before M Shed?
The Bristol Industrial Museum closed in 2006 and was converted by Lab Architecture Studio, into M Shed.
The transformation costs exceeded £27 million, which included a £12.69 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Despite the conversion, Bristol’s industrial heritage and engineering history continues to be represented at M Shed, with harbourside themed exhibits about steamboats, trains, and cranes.
What is there to see at M Shed?
There are three main galleries within the museum: Bristol Places, Bristol People, and Bristol Life, each with their own story.
Some exhibits explore Bristol’s war-time experiences and others showcase the various forms of art, music, and technology that were made in Bristol.
There is also a temporary gallery, which has different local, national, and international exhibits throughout the year.
In order to divulge the stories of its people the museum works closely with experts and communities across Bristol.
Utilising over 3,000 artefacts M Shed then breathes life into these recollections using the past to spark “city-wide conversation[s] about its future.”
One such conversation is Bristol’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. As part of this discussion, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston, which was defaced and toppled in the 2020 George Floyd Protests, made its way to the museum in June 2021.
By using real life recollections to explore what it has meant to live and work in Bristol over the centuries, M Shed has proven itself as a cleverly thought-provoking and fun museum.
Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Bristol Treasure Hunts - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of England.