From historic spots chronicling Manchester’s art through years gone by to avant-garde spots in old mills and engine rooms, here’s our roundup of the best Manchester art galleries:
1. Manchester Art Gallery
Take your time when you’re perusing the Manchester Art Gallery. It’s situated right in the heart of the city and has been right at the epicentre of city life for over two centuries. It boasts an impressive public collection of over 46,000 objects spanning fine art, crafts and more, and has been shaped by those not just in charge of the museum but by the people of Manchester itself too.
Besides its impressive collection, it also has a number of rotating exhibitions and events throughout the year. So with plenty to dive into, why not spend the day down at the historic space and enjoy all it has to offer? Better yet, it’s entirely free to go to the main gallery collections and exhibition spaces, so it’s good for the old wallet too and a good spot to go to when it’s raining.
You’ll find the Manchester Art Gallery at Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3JL.
A centre for contemporary art in Manchester as well as theatre, music and film, HOME is, in their own words, a space to ‘push the boundaries of form and technology, to experiment, have fun and take risks’.
Bold, innovative and often provocative, the art exhibitions on show here are ever-changing – this year they’ve got the ‘British Art Show’ – which showcases significant new commissions supported by the esteemed Art Fund – and ‘Intervention’ – which is designed to contextualise the decommissioned statue of Friedrich Engels that stands in the centre of Manchester through the eyes of activists and writers from Ukraine. They also screen independent films from all over the globe and dance and theatre shows too.
You’ll find HOME at 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN.
3. Rogue Artists’ Studios
Next on this roundup of the best Manchester art galleries is Rogue Artists’ Studios – the largest artists’ studios in the North-West which is currently home to over 90 artists. Studio holders range from recent artists to already-established artists, and once a year, the studio opens its doors to the public, so you can view all the exhibited work and even buy some of it if you fancy.
They also run a programme of events in the Project Space – the latest contemporary art gallery in Manchester that offers a flexible space to showcase their incredible work. Keep your eyes peeled on their website for more information.
You’ll find Rogue Artists’ Studios at 4 Barrass Street, Openshaw, Manchester, M11 1WP.
4. Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Established all the way back in 1850 – then known as the Royal Museum and Public Library – the Salford Museum and Art Gallery is, as the name suggests, a museum and art gallery dedicated to the history, Victorian art and architecture of Salford. But it’s not all about history here – contemporary art gets a look in with regular touring exhibitions too.
Perhaps the most unique part of this Manchester art gallery and museum is Lark Hill Place – a reconstructed street which encapsulates the past living conditions in Salford by displaying products and objects from daily life through the years gone by. There’s a gift shop where you can buy a range of artistic trinkets too.
You’ll find the Salford Museum and Art Gallery at the Crescent, Salford, M5 4WU.
5. The Lowry
Named after the early 20th-century painter L. S. Lowry – who was famous for his paintings of industrial scenes in Manchester and the surrounding regions – The Lowry is an award-winning cultural centre housing two theatres, art galleries, a celebrated studio space and more. Take it from us – it’s a must-visit spot when you’re in town.
Another of Manchester’s art galleries offering free entry, The Lowry has a permanent exhibition of 400 of Lowry’s works – the largest collection in the world – as well as ‘Picture This’ – a temporary exhibition dedicated to six popular children’s books which have been brought to life on stage. You can also catch regular shows here, and there are some great pre- or post-visit places to eat and drink too.
You’ll find The Lowry at Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ.
6. The Whitworth
Part of the University of Manchester and first established back in 1889, The Whitworth went through a £17 million redevelopment in 2015. Since reopening, it’s welcomed almost two million visitors through its doors, and has cemented itself as being one of the leading galleries in Manchester.
The gallery currently holds over 60,000 different works of art, which range from eclectic textiles, prints and wallpapers to historic fine art and more contemporary pieces too. Nothing here is permanent, so chances are there will be different artworks on show each time you visit.
You’ll find The Whitworth at Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER.
7. Islington Mill
Founded in 1996 by artist Bill Campbell, the Islington Mill became an arts club in 2000, and has since become home to over 100 resident artists and collectives in the main mill and adjacent engine houses.
It occasionally hosts events spotlighting the city’s up-and-coming art talent, and there are club nights and interactive exhibitions found here sometimes too. Keep a lookout for later in the year, with more events and other exciting things planned in the pipeline.
You’ll find Islington Mill at James Street, Salford, M3 5HW.
8. Holden Gallery
Next up on this roundup of the best Manchester art galleries is the Holden Gallery – the contemporary art exhibition of the Manchester Metropolitan University and accompanying art school. It hosts the yearly BA and MA degree shows, and champions the art of up-and-coming creatives too.
This particular gallery is one of the best places to view contemporary art in Manchester – and the entire UK for that matter – and there are usually four shows here throughout the year – ranging from photography to live performance art.
You’ll find the Holden Gallery in the Grosvenor Building at the Manchester Metropolitan University, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BR.
9. Castlefield Gallery
Nestled right in the heart of Manchester’s Knott Mill area, the Castlefield Gallery is ‘Manchester’s first public contemporary visual art gallery dedicated to the advancement of contemporary visual art and artists’.
They offer an assorted programme of exhibitions, events and programmes throughout the year, so keep your eyes on their website to see if there’s anything in particular that takes your fancy.
You’ll find the Castlefield Gallery at 2 Hewitt Street, Greater Manchester, M15 4GB.
10. Gallery Oldham
Rounding off this list of the best Manchester art galleries is the Gallery Oldham which, as the name suggests, is based slightly further out in Oldham. The gallery itself has four large exhibition spaces which are currently showing displays such as the ‘British Wildlife Photography Awards’ and ‘Oldham Stories’, featuring selected objects from the gallery’s 110-thousand-strong collection to tell and show the stories of Oldham and its local communities.
You’ll find the Gallery Oldham in the Oldham Cultural Quarter, Greaves Street, Oldham, OL1 1AL.
So there you have it, culture vultures – the best of the best Manchester art galleries. So what are you waiting for? Get your culture fix and go see and discover them for yourselves!