Manchester Student-made

Spots|Manchester: The Whitworth

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As one of the largest cities in the UK, it should be no surprise that Manchester is filled to the brim with artistic and cultural activity. Manchester has served as a hub for idea and expression through the centuries, and now more than ever the city plays host to a range of artistic and musical events.

One such place where this culture is on display is the Whitworth gallery. Sitting pride of place on Oxford Road next to the namesake Whitworth Park, this award-winning gallery is a must see for any art lover visiting Manchester.

The History

Founded in 1889 the gallery (originally named the Whitworth Institute) was established thanks to the generous donation of prolific industrialist Sir Joseph Whitworth. Most notable for his invention of the standard measurement for screw threads, as well as the earliest functioning sniper rifle. Joseph Whitworth was a notable engineer, inventor, believer in the value of education throughout the 19th century, and so the sizeable donation granted to the construction of the then Whitworth Institute and park was typical of his philanthropic nature.

With the mission statement of providing ‘The perceptual gratification of the people of Manchester’ the gallery operated as a celebration of local culture as well as a forum for the education of residents of the city.


While still operating guided by the now over 100-year-old goal, The Whitworth has seen some considerable changes over the centuries, the most notable of which being its merge with the University of Manchester

Being a university gallery, The Whitworth has seen a significant push towards facilitating the research and study of its huge archive and collection. The gallery hosts online and in person events, as well as having collection specialists on call, all in the aim of making the galleries large collection as accessible as possible, to be studied at length by keen researchers.


The Whitworth features a collection comprised of a range of different media. From the fine and contemporary pieces typical of most museum galleries, to the less common 5,000-piece wallpaper collection, the gallery is constantly seeking to expand and diversify the art on public display.

Speaking of displays, The Whitworth keeps their exhibitions evolving. Having no permanent display gives visitors a reason to keep coming back, as the ever-changing interior ensures there is something new to see each time!

Exhibitions & Events

Along with pieces from the permanent collection – The Whitworth also features an array of guest exhibitions. These exhibitions run the gambit of themes and topics, exploring the history of textiles and wallpaper, South Asian modernism, clouds, and even Steve McQueen.

But for those looking for a hands-on experience at The Whitworth, they also regularly put on events open to the public. There are young learning and family play events, late night talks, performances, study sessions and classes running on a daily basis. Take a look at what’s coming up.

In Summary

So, no matter whether you are a fan of fine or contemporary art, textiles or sculptures, dancing or pottery, The Whitworth is a crowning jewel in Manchester art scene thanks to the vibrant and ever growing cultural and educational activity – and best of all, it’s completely free to browse!

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