Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery is one of the country’s finest art museums. We mix works from our wonderful historic collections with the best international contemporary art to bring fresh perspectives to familiar images, create visual dialogues and encourage conversation and debate. We welcome over half a million visitors each year to our home in the heart of the city, a blend of historic and contemporary architecture that echoes our innovative artistic programme. Through our exhibitions and events, we offer extraordinary encounters with brilliant art.
Explore our collections of fine art, spanning six centuries and including many major modern and contemporary pieces. We are famous for 19th century British paintings, particularly our outstanding collection of Pre-Raphaelite works. Our decorative arts collections showcase the artistry, tastes and techniques of every era and culture, from ancient civilizations to today’s designer makers. Our collections of ceramics, silver, glass, furniture and costume are especially fine. We constantly renew and update our collections displays so you should discover something new every time you visit.
Monday - Sunday 10am - 5pm, including bank holiday Mondays
Late night opening on Thursday until 9pm
Part of a Designated Collection of Fine and Decorative Art, which you can also see at Wythenshawe Hall and Heaton Hall, is on display here. Please contact Manchester Art Gallery for more information if you wish to see a specific item.
Manchester Art Gallery is renowned for its collections of fine and decorative art, including internationally famous Pre-Raphaelite paintings and significant holdings of English ceramics. The Art Gallery re-opened in 2002 after a £35 million expansion which doubled the amount of display space available.
Famous for its impressive collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, the gallery houses works by Hunt, Rosetti, Madox Brown and Burne-Jones among others. However, all periods are covered, including what’s happening now.
Fine Art, Decorative and Applied Art, Archaeology
Key artists and exhibits
- Designated Collection
Annie Swynnerton: Painting Light and Hope
- 23 February 2018 — 6 January 2019 *on now
Breaking new ground
Annie Swynnerton was elected the first female Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1922 through the endorsement of established Academicians John Singer Sargent and George Clausen. Although this recognition came late for an artist with an international reputation, the ground breaking accolade prompted a major exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery in 1923 and ensured her legacy.
Female power, strength and hope
Swynnerton first visited Rome in 1874, living for extended periods there between 1883 and 1910. The impact of Italy comes through in the vibrant colours and gestural paint of her portrayals of women that are a highlight of this exhibition. She represented women of all ages and walks of life, challenging conventions of beauty and capturing female power, strength, hope and potential at a time when women’s roles and opportunities were changing. Her shimmering nudes, winged figures and portraits of suffragettes show the importance of female networks and solidarity to Swynnerton’s art. Her portrait of suffragist Dame Millicent Fawcett, founder of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, will be on loan from Tate.
As well as being a successful artist, Swynnerton was a passionate supporter of women’s right to vote for over three decades, signing the Declaration in Favour of Women’s Suffrage in 1889 and a claim for women’s suffrage in 1897, both organised by the Central Committee for the National Society for Women’s Suffrage. She also campaigned for better opportunities for women artists, setting up the Manchester Society of Women Painters, and challenging the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts to open up membership, exhibitions and training to women. In the 1870s and 1880s, along with with Isabel Dacre, Swynnerton studied art and attended art classes at progressive institutions such as the Académie Julian in Paris, as part of a pioneering generation of women who travelled to further their artistic studies.
- Any age
- 23 February — 7 October 2018 *on now
Kate Haywood is a contemporary ceramicist who makes enigmatic structures in porcelain inspired by found objects. Haywood is drawn to unusual objects, and we have invited her to make a work in response to our Mary Greg collection – Kate has chosen some Elizabethan roundels (fruit plates) to inspire her new commission.
- Any age
- 16 March 2018 — 15 March 2019 *on now
And Breathe… is an exhibition of artworks from our collection that has been co-curated with a community mental health group and a group of primary school pupils to explore the relationship between art, positive mental health and wellbeing. The groups and gallery staff worked together last year in a series of mindfulness sessions in the gallery’s art stores and have developed an exhibition designed to encourage people to slow down, connect with art and themselves to enhance their wellbeing.
The exhibition mixes the historic with the contemporary, moving from 19th century seascapes, to more abstract, surreal and modernist works and contemporary photographic pieces by a diverse range of artists including Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon, Catherine Yass and Marcus Coates. The colour scheme, seating, height of art works and interpretation have all been developed to encourage people to relax and spend time in the space and a special audio resource with a range of timed mindful meditations will be available. The exhibition will take a seasonal approach with works by Yves Tanguy, Gwen John and Barbara Hepworth included from November 2018.
- Any age
- 23 March — 7 October 2018 *on now
Focusing on work from the mid-1990s to the present the exhibition will reflect Boyce’s move from her earlier drawing and collage which explored her own position as a black British woman, towards more improvised, collaborative ways of working. These unpredictable, open processes have been documented through a range of media including photography, film and wallpaper. The gallery has also commissioned Boyce to make a new collaborative live work for the exhibition.
Sonia Boyce is fascinated by ‘what people do when they come together’. She is currently working with the gallery team and invited collaborators, including Lasana Shabazz and drag artists from Family Gorgeous, to make a new work, Six Acts, a night-time group takeover of the gallery exploring ‘gender trouble’ among the gallery’s 19th century painting displays and wider culture. This new commission will be made into a film installation and shown for the first time in the exhibition.
- Any age
Family Art Club
Play games, be creative and get messy at Manchester Art Gallery's free family art club. Workshops are designed for you to play, create and enjoy as a family. Workshops are suitable for children aged 6-11 years and their families. The workshops run for two hours to give you the chance to relax and enjoy some quality creative time with your children.
How to obtain
Sessions are free and there's no need to book but places are limited so turn up early.
Family Art Club - Under 5s
Make friends. Make noise. Make a mess! Activities for children aged 0-5 years from 13.00 to 15.00. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
How to obtain
Under 5s Family Art Club sessions are free but places are limited, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
KS2 Interactive: Ford Madox Brown's Work
This Flash online interactive uses the famous painting Work to bring Victorian social history to life. Characters come alive, a series of clues encourage children to investigate the painting closely, and a series of different objects are used to explore the different responses people have to objects and their meanings, encouraging pupils to empathise with different characters. The interactive ends with a quiz to assess what has been learnt, and there's also a handy teacher's guide.
Mini Family Art Club
Make friends. Make noise. Make a mess! Activities for children aged 5 and under. Come along on Fridays 10.30-11.30 with your little ones and spend some quality fun time in a safe environment. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
How to obtain
Activities are free and there is no need to book but places are limited so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Stepping Inside a 1910 painting with Tony Ross
Acclaimed children's author and illustrator Tony Ross responds to a 1910 painting called Old Cab at All Saints, Manchester by Adolphe Valette, producing a witty comment on the original. Good worksheets to help you try it yourself.
- This resource was produced as part of the MLA-funded My Learning project.
Manchester Art Gallery
0161 235 8888
0161 235 8893