Top 10 Best Facts about Manchester Art Gallery (2023)

The Inside of Manchester Art Gallery, Photo by Michael D Beckwith-Wikimedia

Top 10 Best Facts about Manchester Art Gallery

The country of England is full of art galleries and museums. In London, you can admire art in any of these 10 spots that you will find interesting. While still in London, you can choose to visit the museums within the city. To help you make the best pick, here is a list of 10 of the top museums in London that you will find helpful.

Besides what the capital of England (London) has, its other cities boast great art institutions such as the Manchester Art Gallery in Manchester city. From London, Manchester is on the Northwest a distance of about 160 miles or 257 kilometers. Manchester City has many natural attractions like rivers and canals that have been key to the growth of the city, especially between the 18th and 19th centuries.

You can visit Manchester city’s Heaton Park which is the city’s largest open space covering over 600 acres. If you fancy art seeing, Manchester Art Gallery will exceed your expectations. Here is a list of 10 of the top truths about Manchester Art Gallery that you will find intriguing.

1. The Manchester Art Gallery is a public site

Visitors inside the Manchester Art Gallery, Photo by Clive Varley-Wikimedia

This art gallery or museum is a public facility and is a connection between three buildings. It’s in the city center of Manchester along Mosley Street. You can walk in on any day of the week, it’s open. There are over 25000 art objects for you to see and learn about.

This gallery is managed by the Manchester City Council under their Manchester City Galleries department. The city council also operates other facilities like the Platt Hall.

It was the former Manchester City Art Gallery. It welcomes over half a million visitors in a year which is evidence that the gallery is a great tourist destination for both local and international visitors.

2. Manchester Art Gallery is free to visit

Collections of the Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, United Kingdom, Photo by Mike Peel-Wikimedia

There is no admission fee charged so you can have it as part of your fun places to visit when you’re in Manchester city. You can drop in the gallery anytime you are within the area and have some extra time to spend. There are not many galleries that permit free entry, so that is a plus for this art gallery.

3. It started as the Royal Manchester Institution

In 1823 the RMI(Royal Manchester Institution) was founded. Ten years later, RMI opened its doors to the public. For over 200 years, they have delivered the gallery’s mission to be an educational resource. They still live up to their vision of educating their surrounding community using art.

4. The gallery got its present name in 1882

The Manchester Art Gallery remained known as RMI until 1882 when it became part of the Manchester City Council. This took place through an Act of Parliament.

The City’s council was given the condition to ensure at least £2000 was set aside every year. The condition was binding for the 20 years that followed and the money gathered was used for spending on art.

Manchester Art Gallery adopted its name after its acquisition by the Manchester City Council, in 1882. The council controls the budget and funds the same but the gallery also receives funding from its trust fund established in the 1960s.

The trust can pool almost half of the gallery’s required funding. It obtains donations from corporates, grant-making foundations, and trusts as well as individual donations.

5. The Building is the work of architect Charles Barry

Manchester Art Gallery’s main entrance along Mosley Street-Wikimedia

The architect Sir Charles Barry is responsible for designing two among the three buildings connected to make up the Manchester Art Gallery. The oldest among the trio is the City Art Gallery building. It represents an iconic Greek architectural structure.

It was built between 1824 and 1835 and was the home of the Royal Manchester Institution (RMI). It faces Mosley Street and is a listed building meaning it’s on a statutory listing and is maintained by Historic England.

The second building, Manchester Athenaeum is also Barry’s work and is on Princess Street. It was built in 1837 and the Manchester City Council bought it in 1938. The Italian Palazzo-styled building was intended to provide extra space for the art gallery and is a listed building.

A third building was put up and designed by Michael Hopkins and his partners starting in 1998. The two-story art gallery building resembles a rectangular shape model.

6. The art gallery closed from 1998 to 2002

Manchester Art Gallery was closed for about four years from 1998 to 2002 to allow for refurbishment and raising of the third building. The new building was to be an extension of the existing two buildings.

This was done by Hopkins who won the bid to complete the work through an architectural design competition. The event was organized in 1994 by the RIBA(Royal Institute of British Architects) competition. Hopkins and his team were announced as winners of the competition in January 1995.

The amount allocated to the project was £35 million. After completion, critics held the opinion that there was no authenticity in its interior decorations. The critics viewed it as a replica of the old building yet not as good as the finishing of its predecessors. So for a new building, it didn’t meet the expectations of critics.

After opening in 2002, it won that year’s worst new building of the year category in the Sir Hugh Casson Awards. It’s an annual award by a British satirical magazine that was started in honor of High Casson, a renowned British architect. It evaluates buildings and gives recommendations and sometimes may suggest the demolition of some structures.

7. The museum is an art gallery

Collections of the Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, United Kingdom, Photo by Mike Peel-Wikimedia

The Manchester Art Gallery belongs to the grouping of art galleries across the world. In recent years the gallery has expanded its collections to include modern and contemporary artworks.

It falls in the same classification as New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. Another example is the Louvre museum, among many other museums of modern and contemporary art in Paris, and other parts of the globe.

8. Manchester Art Gallery bought the first art in 1827

The art museum got its first art by the British painter James Northcote in 1827. James made an Ira Aldridge portrait. Aldridge was a renowned black actor.

9. The art gallery invented the costume collection in Britain

The Manchester Art Gallery pioneered a costume collection in the 1920s. In Britain, it was the first gallery to introduce the category at the time. The first collection under this category was gifted to the art gallery by Mary Greg. She donated many of her accessories and dresses to the facility.

A collection of embroideries from around the globe were a gift from Mrs. Lewis F Day. Many years later, the gallery’s costume items became appreciated in the entire country. It’s a representation of various social classes from different historical ages.

10. Initial Collections depended on gifts and bequests

During the post-world war period, the Manchester Art Gallery was short of funds. So, the art museum survived on well-wisher donations for the majority of the 1950s.

A significant bequest was from George Beatson Blair. He authorized the committee of the art gallery to choose from his 40000 art items for the museum after his death which happened in 1940.

The committee selected the objects they deemed important to the art gallery post-wartime. They managed to secure only 400 items. There are other gifts and bequests to the art gallery from different individuals. The Art Fund started in the 1960s helped stabilize the financial standing of the facility and enabled it to get works of high quality.

The Manchester Art Gallery is dedicated to serving Mancunians with the experience of a gallery and museum like no other. To achieve this, the art gallery has all its subsidiaries under one umbrella, the Manchester Art Galleries. They are all operated by the Manchester city council.

The subsidiaries that make up the Manchester Art Galleries are the gallery itself, the Platt Hall(former costume gallery), and a Georgian house in Rusholme’s Platt Fields Park. The gallery’s Queen’s Park conservation studios are part of it too.

Manchester Art Gallery has also partnered with Manchester University’s affiliated art facilities, the Whitworth Art Gallery, and the Manchester Museum. All this dedication aims at giving the best experience of gallery or museum art to the city of Manchester.


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