From powerhouse institutions to small independent joints, here is our guide to the best art in the city.
Manchester Art Gallery
With an impressive permanent collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Manchester Art Gallery is great if you like traditional painting (and ginger girls). While institutions such as this can sometimes be deemed soulless, Manchester Art Gallery keeps on top of its game with constantly changing contemporary, temporary exhibitions. What is even more interesting, however, is the recent scandal whereby the gallery temporarily removed popular Pre-Raphaelite painting ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’, claiming it was bordering on child pornography. Although perhaps merely done for a PR stunt, an art institution that can in fact question itself and its morals is not a usual occurrence. Now back on the wall, there is even space for comments, so why not go and see the bosoms of the nymphs for yourself and see what you – and half of Manchester – think on the matter.
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
0161 235 8888
Founded in 2016, Collar is an artist lead organization of studios and gallery space. Interested in the relationship between the blue-collar worker and the white-collar worker, the constant power play at work, their exhibitions are explorative, insightful and playful.
Collar, 6th Floor, Wellington House, Manchester, M40 7FS
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art
People often mistake this Thomas Street establishment for a shop – as an impressive gift shop it does have. But behind the craft jewelers and quirky graphic design gifts, is a contemporary gallery space that hosts international artists on subjects on or surrounding China. If issues surrounding contemporary China interest you, they also have a full program of events including talks, film viewings and craft workshops for a fully immersive experience.
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, 13 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU
0161 832 7271
A trendy bar on the top floor, if you like to mix your art with craft beer this is the place to do it. The basement often has exhibitions of art or art events from emerging talent – students mostly. Being a small room, this is perfect for a nosey on an evening.
Kosmonaut, 10 Tariff St, Manchester M1 2FF
Manchester School of Art
A hub of creativity, talent and several variations of Doc Martin’s, every year the art school hosts a degree show of all student’s work. Almost every wall in the building is badly plastered and repainted white by the students in preparation, as the studios become the gallery walls showcasing art, sculpture, illustration, live performance and just about every other art form you can think of. Beware of the unrequited spirit for life among students; it can cause recent graduates an even larger bout of self pity than they’re already experiencing.
Manchester School of Art, 153 Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6BX
0161 247 1751
Nexus Art Café
Art with heart, Nexus Art Café is a Christian café and event space with constantly changing exhibitions. With the atmosphere of someone’s front room, grab a cup of tea and sit in one of the comfy chairs to take in whatever exhibition is in line with their ethos at that moment.
Nexus Art Café, 2 Dale St, Manchester M1 1JW
0161 236 0100
Just a little towards Salford, this establishment boasts a successful 18 years of artistic greatness. Since forming in the new millennium they have supported some 5000 artists from around 35 countries to bring the Manchester population public arts programs, residencies and exhibitions. A day out to Islington Mill can also slip to night, with a line-up of music nights and collaborations that are perfect when you’re looking for the perfect antidote to the regular night on the town.
Islington Mill, 1 James St, Salford M3 5HW
0161 278 6404
Reopening just a few years ago with a stunning restoration of what was already a beautiful building, this gallery and sculpture park is perfect if you have someone less than enthusiastic about the actual artwork to drag around with you. The artwork is often innovative, revolutionary and infamous, and the café is framed with glass walls that overlook the lovely sculpture park. Combine a day of art with a healthy sandwich and walk in the park – a wholesome day out all round!
Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER
0161 275 7450
While many still mourn the closure of the Cornerhouse, the success of HOME – its shiny brand-new replacement – can’t be denied. Amongst the theatre, cinema, bar and restaurant the center is also fit with an incredible gallery space. Hosting artists, festivals and other such creative endeavors, there is always something on at HOME.
HOME, 2, Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN
0161 200 1500
Castlefield Gallery has been supporting upcoming artists since 1984, producing and curating exhibitions of contemporary art that challenge our perceptions to say the least. Their artists have even been known to go on to win the prestigious Turner Prize, so its definitely worth checking out!
Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt St, Manchester M15 4GB
0161 832 8034