This autumn sees Manchester host a range of exhibitions, whether it be galleries, studios and museums presenting art from both new and renowned artists, or installations that really get you thinking and immersed in the experience. Manchester is a cultural hub and you’ll find plenty of exhibitions showcasing the likes of art, photography, memorabilia, sculptures and historical artefacts across the city to discover during your free time. So switch off from the everyday and become fully absorbed in these exhibitions taking place in Manchester this autumn, many of which are free to visit.
Art exhibitions in Manchester
1. Danielle Rhoda: City of Colour, HOME
HOME hosts a number of art exhibitions and this Black History Month will see one from Danielle Rhoda, an illustrator, animator and maker of things originally from Poland and former Manchester School of Art student. Known as City of Colour which celebrates the diversity in Manchester.
Just like she does in her daily practice, the artist will take to the streets to document real people and create illustrated snapshots of their moments in the city on the front of the HOME building. This time, focusing especially on the Black community for Black History Month 2022. Danielle Rhoda uses a variety of media with the focus on traditional materials with the aim of placing handmade textures at the forefront of her visuals which are often depictions of people in her local areas.Until October 31. Free.
2. Art of Banksy, MediaCity
This autumn a big art exhibition dedicated to Banksy is coming to Salford. The Art of Banksy, is the largest touring exhibition of Banksy’s artworks, and will be located at a new purpose-built gallery in the heart of MediaCity. The exhibition producers have collected the world’s largest collection of privately-owned Banksy art, with ‘Girl and Balloon’, ‘Flower Thrower’, ‘Rude Copper’ and ‘Brace Yourself’ being perhaps the most famous masterpieces assembled.
The Art of Banksy will display 145 prints, canvasses, screenprints, unique works, limited-edition pieces and more, covering a period from 2002 to 2017, and also features some of the artists’ lesser-known works (plus one rare painting) for a bit of variety. October 21 to January 8, 2023. Tickets from £19.50.
3. Nina Chua and Daniel Silver, Castlefield Gallery
Castlefield Gallery presents a lively and exuberant art exhibition of the work of Nina Chua and Daniel Silver, which is part of the Manchester gallery’s ongoing series of two person shows and exhibitions. Chua invited Silver, an artist working at the forefront of contemporary figurative sculpture, to show a group of recent ceramic figures alongside a new set of her large-scale abstract drawings on paper.
Both artists work with materials in an intuitive, exploratory way leaving expression to the material itself. Silver’s figures seem to emerge from the clay, which plays a significant part in shaping the work, while the form of Chua’s drawings is determined as much by the qualities of paper and her use of marker pens as by her own hand. October 30 to January 29, 2023. Free.
4. They Come In Threes, Saan1
They Come in Threes is the debut solo exhibition of Manchester based young artist FNTSYWRLD. The exhibition is spread across the three floors of Northern Quarter art space, Saan1, with each floor showcasing the unique styles of FNTSYWRLD’s work.
On the ground floor you’ll find FNTSYWRLD’s project ‘On The Streets – Painting for Homelessness’, a project that FNTSYWRLD began in March 2021 where he took to the streets of Manchester to publicly create a number of acrylic paintings, with the aim to spread compassion and humanity for those in a less fortunate position. On the first floor of Saan1 you’ll discover visually striking figurative paintings, drawn from FNTSYWRLD’s psyche, then head up to the second floor where FNTSYWRLD explores an uncomfortable truth about himself through grayscale pencil illustrations. Until October 31. Free.
5. Althea McNish: Colour Is Mine, The Whitworth
Althea McNish was the first Caribbean designer to achieve international recognition and one of the most influential and innovative textile designers in the UK. Drawing on extensive new research, this touring exhibition from the William Morris Gallery in London explores McNish’s extraordinary career and her transformative impact on mid-century design, along with her enduring influence today.
Highlights of this exhibition at The Whitworth include items from McNish’s recently uncovered personal archive – much of which has never been seen before. Also on display will be examples of McNish’s original designs alongside her most celebrated textile and wallpapers. October 21 to April 23, 2023. Free.
Photography exhibitions in Manchester
6. Afflecks 40, Afflecks
Afflecks, the iconic Manchester shopping emporium, has unveiled its long awaited “Afflecks 40” project to mark its 40th anniversary year. A commemorative book and exhibition featuring a series of portraits by photographer, Paul Wolfgang Webster, has now been revealed in order to celebrate the destination’s incredible heritage and legacy as a cultural institution.
The exhibition, located on the third floor of the building, shows 40 portraits of 40 people who have been part of Afflecks’ five-decade-strong journey and, in turn, who feel that Afflecks has been a big part of their own story. The collection features an eclectic mix of traders past and present; customers; fans; businesses and celebrities including Guy Garvey, Lemn Sissay, Peter Hook, Mike Joyce, Wayne Hemmingway and Sophie Willan. Until November 25. Free.
7. Are You Living Comfortably?, New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery
During 2021 artist duo McCoy Wynne undertook a residency with Energy House at the University of Salford, working closely with the team to to then go on to create a photography exhibition being showcased in Manchester with themes of climate, energy use and environment. Are You Living Comfortably? is an example of ‘how the imagination of art can interpret the discovery of science’. Amid the wires, sensors and equipment monitoring atmospheric changes inside the facility – such as temperature and CO2 levels – the artists used both digital photography and thermal imaging cameras to visualise the research taking place.
In addition, the artists drew their own background as property photographers: Energy House felt strangely familiar, like an empty home awaiting new residents. Giving it a new imagined life – dressed as if ready for sale, personal belongings and furniture added for effect, or with new garden views added from its windows – McCoy Wynne make the ‘laboratory house recognisable as a home’ – merging together the leading scientific research with the domestic environments it will one day improve. Until December 23. Free.
Historical exhibitions in Manchester
8. Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window, Imperial War Museum North
The poppy has become a symbol of remembrance since the war due to its significance on the battlegrounds of the Western Front. The bold flower persisted among the destruction; flourishing in the thousands to become a bright field of red on previously barren and destroyed lands. And now an installation of cascading poppies has found a home at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester.
Conceived by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper as part of the Tower of London installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the artwork was broken down into smaller sections named Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window. With Remembrance Day on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to witness this stunning installation up close and reflect. Permanent exhibition. Free.
9. The Brontë Room at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester has opened a new room to add to their permanent exhibitions that will explore Elizabeth’s role in Victorian society in a way that has never previously been done. As well as being an acclaimed author, Elizabeth Gaskell was a radical changemaker of her time and one connected with other notable female reformers like Florence Nightingale, George Eliot, Christabel Pankhurst and Beatrix Potter.
The exhibition in the new Brontë Room will explore how Elizabeth and her daughters played a role within the foundations of the trade union movement, supported soup kitchens and had a strongly philanthropic outlook. A newly commissioned film, exploring the relationship between Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell, and an interactive dressing up area are all part of the exhibition space, which fills the Brontë Room. Permanent. Tickets from £6.50.
10. Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline, Imperial War Museum North
For those who appreciate photography exhibitions and reflecting on historical moments, this photography series now in Manchester and by British/ Swedish photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind exploring the conflict in Ukraine is a must-see. Starting from the violent protests of 2014 right up until June 2022, during this eight-year period, when the attention of much of the world’s media turned elsewhere, Anastasia continued to work in Ukraine.
She documents ordinary citizens whose lives have been uprooted by the threat of the frontline, the reality of displacement, and the pain of separation from loved ones. This exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North is also the first time that her images from Ukraine will feature in an exhibition context. Until January 2, 2023. Free.
Immersive exhibitions in Manchester
11. Turn It Up: The Power of Music, Science and Industry Museum
The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester is opening a world-first immersive exhibition exploring the science of music’s mysterious hold over us and how it drives us to create, perform, feel and share. Through specially commissioned interactive and immersive installations, personal stories, musical tracks, dance and music-making opportunities, never-before-seen musical inventions, first-hand accounts from renowned musicians, artwork, cutting-edge research and unique instruments – discover the science behind music and what the future holds for melody making.
One of the most interactive exhibitions in Manchester, visitors can also put their knowledge and intuition to the test – guessing the meaning of songs from around the world even when the culture, language and instruments are unfamiliar; figuring out which songs have been created by a human or an AI; and testing your dance moves as the ‘Boogie to the Beat’ digital mirror motion tracks your Vogue, Renegade and Twist in the name of science. October 21- May 2023. Tickets from £6.
Sport exhibitions in Manchester
12. No Score Draws: World Cup Exhibition, National Football Museum
As the World Cup approaches, this is one of the perfect art exhibitions to visit in Manchester to get you geared up for the tournament. Since 2014, Sian and Alex Pratchett have been drawing their own wonky versions of football stickers, annihilating the confidence of tens of thousands of players. The National Football Museum will be telling the various stories of the World Cup via their iconic (yes, iconic) artworks, from the birth of the bona fide sticker album in 1970 right up to the present day.
Enjoy Sian and Alex’s take on Gazza’s tears, Diego’s devilry and other key moments of sporting history as well as learn more about the players behind the pictures. Fill your own No Score Draws sticker book on the gallery trail, and add your very own doodles to the museum’s dedicated sticker wall. October 19- January 8, 2023. Free for City of Manchester residents. Tickets from £6.
13. Gerrumonside! The passion of rugby league past, present & future, Museum of Wigan Life
A multitude of World Cup tournaments are taking place this autumn, including the Rugby League World Cup 2021. Located at Museum of Wigan Life, visit a temporary exhibition celebrating Rugby League past and present in the borough of Wigan and internationally.
Follow the local teams’ trophy-filled histories and learn how Wigan, Leigh and Tyldesley broke away from the Rugby Football Union in 1895 and formed the Northern Union. Learn about the early game, the rise of women in the sport, disability rugby, grass roots rugby, the international game and the all important fans. See original memorabilia never seen before, and more unusual items including the original turnstile from Central Park. Until November 19. Free.