Manchester Museum, the UK’s largest university museum, is set to be taken over by two days of live musical performances over the 15th and 16th of November as choirs and performers from across Manchester perform original songs and pieces inspired by the Museum’s varied collections.

The event, Wonderstruck, has been commissioned by Manchester Museum and People United, a pioneering charity looking at the role arts can play in developing a caring society.

The unique project seeks to generate a sense of wonder at the world we live in, encouraging awareness of issues such as sustainability and wellbeing.  Wonderstruck has been created by Daniel Bye (writer, director and performer), director Sarah Punshon and writer and musician Boff Whalley (famed for 25 years of touring and recording with Chumbawamba).

Boff Whalley has written the original songs, which will be performed around the museum as visitors move between the exhibits, journeying around the world, travelling in time and taking in dinosaurs, fossils and more along the way.

It’s clearly an ambitious event, which has excited Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum, who commented “We are delighted to be working with People United on the Wonderstruck project. Visitors often tell us that Manchester Museum is a space where they encounter the unexpected, and working with Dan, Sarah and Boff, we have been able to explore this in new ambitious ways, drawing on our extraordinary collections and rooted in our vision to work towards a more sustainable world.”

image of the choir rehearsing at Manchester Museum's Wonderstruck event

The choir rehearses ahead of the Wonderstruck event at Manchester Museum

A number of Manchester choirs are taking part in the event, including Golden Voices Community Choir, the Manchester Schools Network Choir, the all-female She choir and the Ordsall A Cappellas.  There will also be a flash mob to surprise visitors to the Manchester as members of the public join a specifically put together flash mob choir to pop up in unexpected places throughout the weekend.

Composer on the project, Boff Whalley commented “Teaching our new songs to these choirs, from the under 10s to the over 60s, has been fantastic. We are really looking forward to seeing how the Museum’s visitors respond to the performances at the Wonderstruck weekend.”

In putting the event together writer/performer Daniel Bye and director Sarah Punshon, along with composer Boff Whalley, took inspiration from the museum’s collections, with Daniel Bye noting “People United and Manchester Museum are both wonderful organisations and I’m totally delighted to be working with them on this project. I hope what we are creating will reflect and magnify the museum’s awesome collection, and bring together some of Manchester’s great communities in speech and song, while creating a sense of joy and wonder for the Museum’s visitors.”


image of Sarah Punshon and Boff Whalley at Manchester Museum

Sarah Punshon and Boff Whalley take inspiration from the Museum’s collections

Wonderstruck is a free weekend event on 15th and 16th of November, with no booking necessary.  Performances from 11am and 1.30pm start in the Museum reception area, from where you can follow the performs and experience the whole 70 minute cycle or encounter surprises as you explore the museum yourself.