Spotlight: Manchester’s hidden art

Jan 28,2015

Manchester is known for many things. Its music scene, for example, is by and large one of the biggest in the UK. And then there is its thriving night life and famed shopping scene, not to mention the iconic cobbles of Coronation Street. But what about art? Surely such a historic city must have its fair share of galleries, picture houses and libraries? The answer is, of course, yes. It just so happens that when people think 'visit Manchester' they seem to be more inclined to envisage designer outlets than emerging artists. Somewhere along the line, people have become more likely to tap 'hotels near the Trafford centre' into their browser than 'galleries in Manchester'. Of course, the city has a fantastic offering when it comes to retail, but it doesn't hurt to check out some of the local art when you're tired of spending. With that in mind, we thought it was about time to put the city on the map for its great cultural offering. So without further ado, here's to exploring Manchester's hidden art.

Contemporary: From modern sculpture to performing arts

Manchester is home to some fantastic modern art galleries, which support both established and emerging artists. The Artzu Gallery showcases a mixture of sculpture, painting and photography, and lies in the heart of Manchester's financial district. Its sleek interior and impressive exhibitions make for a true celebration of modern art. So much so that it has earned itself a reputation for being the most progressive independent gallery space in the city for over ten years. For film lovers, the Cornerhouse is definitely worth a visit, with three screens showing the best of independent film year-round. Founded by the Greater Manchester Visual Arts Trust, the gallery is big on performing arts too.

Moving slightly further out of Manchester city centre you'll find The Lowry, which is located in the popular Salford Quays of Greater Manchester. Showcasing a diverse mixture of visual and performing arts, it houses two impressive theatres, as well as studio space. And the building itself is a great example of Manchester's futuristic architecture, which stands alone as a great reason to visit.

The historic: Over three hundred years of arts and culture

Manchester's arts scene plays homage to much more than the contemporary, with galleries and libraries dating back some few hundred years. The Manchester Art Gallery, for example, was founded all the way back in 1824. In present day, the gallery occupies three majestic buildings, including one that is Grade I listed. Amongst its enticing displays of historic, fine and decorative art, the Manchester Art Gallery also exhibits contemporary art, costume displays and photography.

Although not many people know it, Manchester is also home to the UK's oldest free public library. Part of Chetham's Hospital, it was established in 1653 and hasn't been repurposed since. With over 100,000 volumes stored within its ancient walls, the library is somewhat of a spectacle. And if only those walls could talk - meetings actually took place within them between no other than Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In fact, the economics books studied by Marx can still be found on the library's shelves to this day.

So there you have it. Manchester really is steeped in the arts. With galleries old and new, the city is a great place to celebrate both the historic and the up and coming. And with so many great exhibitions on offer, visitors could spend all day soaking up culture if they wanted to. It seems, then, that Manchester's hidden art isn't so hidden after all.


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