Regardless of its reputation it truly doesn’t rain all of the time in Manchester. But when it does rain there’s still always lots to do as the town hosts a variety of art galleries, museums and other “rainy day” attractions, not least of which are its eclectic collection of bars! The boozers apart though , the outright “Jewel in the Crown” must be the city’s main art studio which used be called “The Town Art Studio ” but is now simply called “The Manchester Art Gallery”. It could have modified its name since I lived here and undergone a multi-million pound make over however as with the town itself, it keeps its original fascinations and pleasures with the modern additions being a bonus instead of a back biting. This is an ideal example of a municipal art gallery offering a brilliantly various range of designs, of both local and world renown, classical and up to date, and has set out to try and appeal to as wide a cross-section of the populus as practical. The studio is especially family-friendly with two of the rooms devoted especially to interactive exhibitions intended to make an appeal to youngsters of every age and if my last visit is characteristic it certainly succeeds. As a fascinating piece of history the first collections were presented to the then Manchester Enterprise in 1882 by the Royal Society on the condition the Enterprise invested at least four thousand pounds a year on further aquisitions and the studio quickly grew beyond its original space. A second studio was then built ( The Athenaeum ), instantly behind, to provide housing for the overflow and the most recent redevelop has connected the 2 buildings and made another atrium space which now hosts varied non-permanent exhibitions like the current Choe U-ram’s works ( pic three ).
The gallery’s permanent collection includes works by many UK and Western european gurus from the 17th and eighteenth centuries as well as more recent pieces like Henry Moore’s “Mother and Kid ” and obviously examples of Manchester’s own LS Lowry’s uniquely unusual style.
The permanent collection also includes what is known as one of the best aquisitions of works by the Pre-Raphaelites who’s works were up to date with the city’s boom time and it’s indeed Rossetti’s rather georgeous ladies that have stuck in my mind ever since my first visit here years gone. The top floor is utilized for assorted short lived exhibitions and at the time of writing hosts an interesting set of sculptures by the Korean artist Gwon Osang and a summer vacation impressive based round the works of children’s writer and illustrator Lauren Kid who was momentarily a student here at Manchester Poly.
This actually is worth the visit and naturally being municipal is also free ( though a little donation is always appreciated ). Opening times are Tues. to Sun. 10am to 5pm plus Bank Holiday Mondays.