When Salford Museum and Art Gallery opened in 1850 it was housed in a large mansion house that stood in the same grounds as the current building. The mansion was a classical villa built in the 1790s by Colonel James Ackers ‘father of the Manchester silk trade’. The museum was so popular that in 1852 a new wing was added to the north side along with a staircase designed by architects Travis & Magnall of Manchester. Five years later the number of visitors exceeded 1.6 million and the south wing was added to accommodate the ever increasing figures.
The west wing (Langworthy wing, now the main entrance to the building), was added after Edward Langworthy left £10,000 to the museum on his death in 1874. The mansion remained until 1936/7 when it was found to be unsound and was demolished.
A recent study of the building by Architectural History Practice Ltd has suggested that the building is of ‘great architectural and historic interest as a pioneer example of a municipal museum’. The top lit galleries in the north and south wings are amongst the earliest examples of their type.