Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery
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Here you'll find everything from fine art to a Levi jeans chair. Manchester Art Gallery's world class collection spans six centuries and contains over 25,000 items.

Winner of Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2008 in the Manchester Tourism Awards and shortlisted for the Guardian Family Friendly Award, Manchester Art Gallery has something for everyone.

Regularly changing exhibitions, an award winning cafe and a gallery shop mean that you can pop in for 10 minutes, or spend a whole day there. You don't have to like everything inside. And you don't need to be an expert to enjoy a visit.

Manchester Art Gallery. Enjoy. Discover. Relax.

This gallery has a Designated Collection of national importance.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Open Monday-Sunday 10am-5pm, including bank holiday Mondays.
Late night opening on Thursday until 9pm.
Closed Good Friday 3 April 2015

Admission charges


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.

Collection details

Fine Art, Decorative and Applied Art, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Natural Forces: Romanticism and Nature

  • 12 July 2014 — 12 July 2015 *on now

Nature can be both a threat and a consolation. It has the power to destroy as well as to revive and calm. It evokes powerful emotions from fear and terror, to joy and love. This new display of Romantic painting of the early 1800s expresses this dynamic drama of human emotion in relation to nature.

During the period, a number of artists including Turner and Constable, rejected academic conventions that defined what was beautiful and appropriate in art. They injected new vision and vitality through a more direct response to what they saw and experienced on land and at sea. Employing greater freedom of expression in brushwork, colour and composition they were able to capture the fleeting effects of weather, the changing seasons and the fugitive qualities of light with moving intensity.

These artists focused on the physical power of nature to explore human emotions and a sense of mortality. Turner in particular recognised the potential of the sea to represent turmoil and human vulnerability, as did marine painter Clarkson Stanfield. Images of shipwrecks and storms had particular resonance in an age when seafaring was a vital part of everyday life for food, travel, trade and war.

History painters such as William Etty also enhanced the emotional intensity of their work through natural forces. The depiction of extreme weather heightened the drama of a real or imagined event and provoked empathy for the characters portrayed.

Suitable for


House Proud

  • 2 April 2015 — 2 April 2016 *on now

House Proud, our new exhibition of glass, metalwork and furniture is inspired by the Gallery's pioneering Industrial Art Collection. During the 1930s the Gallery was one of the first to collect mass-produced or limited-edition home furnishings with a very strong, contemporary design aesthetic and to display them in an art gallery setting. The exhibition illustrates some of the ways in which the boundaries between art and design for the home have been challenged since then.

Some manufacturers deliberately chose to employ contemporary artists in order to improve the design and cachet of their products: the exhibition includes items designed for industrial production by artists such as Dame Laura Knight, Eric Ravilious and John Piper. Many of the designers included in the show were influenced by contemporary art, particularly Neo-Romanticism, Abstraction, Surrealism, Op and Pop Art. Modern art opened up new ways of looking at objects which, combined with developments in science and technology, led to new forms for traditional functional objects and novel sources for decoration.

Suitable for


Artists in the Frame: Self-Portraits by Van Dyck and Others

  • 21 May — 31 August 2015 *on now

Sir Anthony Van Dyck's last Self-Portrait is one of the most remarkable self-portraits ever painted in Britain. Refined and elegant with an exuberant gilded frame it is a powerful statement of artistic identity and status – here is the celebrated court painter of Charles I who changed portraiture in Britain and transformed social perceptions of the artist from artisan to creative genius. This summer, the portrait will be the highlight of an exhibition of artists' self-portraits at Manchester Art Gallery.

Artists in the Frame explores identity and self-expression. See self-portraits by artists including Van Dyck, William Hogarth, Angelica Kauffman, Wyndham Lewis, Sarah Lucas, Julian Opie and Grayson Perry. Why have these artists put themselves 'in the frame'? Are dress, pose, setting, props and framing significant to their self-presentation? Do symbols and other visual clues point to who they really are?

Spanning over 300 years up until the present day and featuring photographs, paintings, digital and graphic works this is a unique opportunity to see self-portraits from the gallery's collection alongside loans from the National Portrait Gallery and contemporary artists.

Suitable for


Cotton Couture

  • 19 June — 31 August 2015 *on now

The Gallery of Costume houses a remarkable collection of designer dresses and suits commissioned by the Colour, Design and Style Centre of the Cotton Board, a Manchester-based organisation aiming to promote the use of cotton in fashion and to expand the export trade. The Centre concentrated on exhibitions, shows and commissions to promote cotton in fashion. The surviving outfits were all designed for the catwalk, and were created by the leading London and Paris couturiers of the 1950s. They exemplify the best of cut and silhouette for high-end fashion.

In Lancashire, raw cotton was imported mainly from the southern states of the USA and was woven and printed in huge quantities. By the 1950s, it was viewed pre-eminently as a fabric for summer dresses or children’s wear, or else for underwear or workwear. The fashion industry did not look to cotton usually for stylish evening or cocktail outfits, which were invariably made of silk, or for tailoring, which was usually in wool. The Cotton Board deliberately challenged these established views by commissioning ball gowns, cocktail dresses and tailored suits, all in a striking range of different cottons. The effect of this publicity is unclear
what is evident is the demonstration of the immense versatility of cotton in all its myriad of finishes.

The Gallery has about 60 outfits donated by the Cotton Board, nearly all from the 1950s. British designers Hardy Amies, Michael Sherard, Digby Morton, John Cavanagh and Victor Stiebel created dresses alongside some of the great Parisian couturiers: Jean Patou, Jean Desses, Jacques Griffe, Pierre Balmain and Pierre Cardin.

Suitable for


Performance Capture

  • 4 — 19 July 2015

For Manchester International Festival 2015 Ed Atkins is lifting the veil on the production of digital art with Performance Capture. Taking place at Manchester Art Gallery over the course of the Festival, the exhibition offers audiences the unique chance to go behind the scenes of the production of a computer-generated moving image work.

Performance Capture takes its name from a process that records, maps and renders the movements of a performer onto a computer-generated figure. This avatar will be an amalgamation of performers from across the MIF15 programme, all of whom will be mapped onto a singular character created by Atkins.

The exhibition is laid out across three rooms allowing visitors the chance to go behind the scenes of the whole production process. Performances by MIF actors, musicians and artists will be captured onto computer, digitally modelled, cut and soundtracked, and then screened in a perpetual cinema of the ever-accumulating rushes of the footage. Visitors can watch as the work builds up scene-by-scene across the festival, building towards the final film – a digital archive of MIF15.

Suitable for


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

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
Mosley Street
Greater Manchester
M2 3JL



Information desk

0161 235 8888


0161 235 8893

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.