Manchester is famous for its creative vibe and thriving art scene, and this buzzing northern city is home to hundreds of artists and designers, with high-profile art venues hosting exhibitions from around the world. From public galleries and working design studios to artist-run spaces, Manchester is an art lover’s paradise.
If you’re looking for a creative fix when you’re in town, then grab our handy guide, jump in an Uber, and catch up with the latest exhibitions and shows at the following places:
The Lowry is a vast, multifunctional arts venue boasting a striking glass and steel facade, and a stunning waterside location in Salford Quays. The venue is named after local artist LS Lowry, who is famous for portraying the region’s industrial past with his unique painting style. Inside, visitors will find the largest public collection of Lowry’s work and an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions. There are also two theatres that host performing arts events, including drama, comedy, opera, and dance. If you’re hungry, you can grab something to eat in the stylish restaurant or the laid-back coffee shop on the premises.
Offering an innovative mix of visual art, film, and experimental theatre, HOME was born when two of Manchester’s most creative organisations, Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company, came together to create a vibrant arts space. The venue is proud of its focus on work that is dramatic, radical, and daring. A slick gallery plays host to contemporary exhibitions by national and international artists. The theatre spaces support new dramatic works, and the cinema screens show quirky, independent films. A chic restaurant, popular bar, and outdoor terrace add to the lively atmosphere.
Manchester Art Gallery
Housed in an impressive 19th-century building, Manchester Art Gallery is the city’s main public art museum. The extensive, historic collections include paintings, costume, ceramics, furniture, and decorative silver work. The gallery is famous for its collections of 19th-century British and Pre-Raphaelite paintings. There’s also a changing diary of contemporary art shows and a packed education programme.
Manchester Craft and Design Centre
Manchester Craft and Design Centre is a productive space that houses working studios for designers and craft workers, such as jewellers, ceramists, and print-makers. It’s located in a former Victorian fish market from 1873 and many original features remain, including two of the fishmonger’s stalls. You can see the designers hard at work, and buy their creations at the on-site shop or online. The centre also hosts exhibitions, events, and hands-on workshops and the café serves up scrumptious, homemade food.
Showing a mix of established artists and emerging talent, Artzu Gallery has built a reputation as a progressive and independent art space. The venue particularly aims to appeal to art collectors, and contemporary paintings, modern sculptures, and innovative installations are shown in the bright exhibition spaces. The gallery also offers a consultancy service for seasoned buyers, or those looking to dip their toe into art collecting for the first time.
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art
This dynamic venue has been showing contemporary Chinese art for over thirty years and during that time, the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) has earned an international reputation for presenting groundbreaking solo and group exhibitions, festivals, and symposiums. Check in to see the newest works, or join in with one of the CFCCA’s community engagement events. The centre is also working in partnership with the University of Salford to build a permanent collection of contemporary Chinese art.
The Northern Quarter
The Northern Quarter, the city’s creative and digital hub, is another great way to soak up Manchester’s artistic buzz. You can wander around this trendy district, which is home to artist-run galleries, design studios, bars, and coffee shops. The Northern Quarter is also a great place to catch experimental theatre, music gigs, and comedy shows.