Lost and Found: Museums at Night in Manchester

Susie Stubbs

Three days of after-hours events led by the artist Richard Wentworth celebrate the very best of our museums and galleries.

A mystery tour, a people’s museum: an exhibition in a night. What links them all, we hear you ask? This May, Manchester takes part in Museums at Night. With Richard Wentworth leading proceedings, the city’s museums and galleries stage a series of events over two evenings that celebrate the depth and diversity, the weirdness and the wonderfulness of the things that people are compelled to collect.

On Thursday 16 May, you’re invited to bring something curious to a collections booth at either Manchester Museum or Manchester Art Gallery, and in so doing create a people’s museum – your object will be “acquired” by the institution. On the same evening, take a mystery bus tour of Manchester. You won’t know where you’re going or why; all you need to know is that your bus follows a circuitous route devised by the artist Richard Wentworth. On Friday 17 May, see the fruits of your collective labour. Richard Wentworth creates an exhibition in a night at the Whitworth; the objects donated the previous night acting as the raw materials for Wentworth’s show here. There are other events, too, with both the People’s History Museum and National Football Museum also taking part.

We can’t tell you exactly how things will unfurl as Museums at Night progresses, but we can tell you that you will be with like-minded souls. Like them, you might collect things in order to make sense of the world – or to find your place within it. You might be cynical. You might be curious. You will be lost, you may be found. Intrigued? Read on for our listings of what’s on and when.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

In the run-up to Museums at Night, we launch #lovecollecting. Share your images of curious and lovely objects, or those that you’ve found in museums and galleries that particularly inspired you. Museums and galleries across Manchester are taking part and you can too.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Build a cabinet of curiosities at Manchester Museum and Manchester Art Gallery. Donate your own object at special collections booths set up in both venues; it will be given an acquisition number and used the following night by the artist Richard Wentworth. Your object won’t be returned so it has to be something you’re willing to part with (or leave a photograph or representation of it instead), and the museum and gallery are particularly interested in curious, strange and unusual objects, as well as things that you think should be in a museum but perhaps aren’t. 5pm-9pm, Manchester Museum & Manchester Art Gallery, free.

Richard Wentworth’s mystery bus tour of Manchester. Bus tours run between Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Museum on Thursday night, and follow a circuitous route devised by the artist Richard Wentworth. Buses leave from both venues at 5.30pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm, are free and available on a first come, first served basis – just wait at the special bus stops outside both institutions. 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm, Manchester Museum & Manchester Art Gallery, free.

Thursday Lates. Manchester Art Gallery will run another edition of its hugely popular Manchester Lates series, which involves music, performance and its galleries, shop and café open until late into the evening. 5pm-9pm, Manchester Art Gallery, free.

After Hours at Manchester Museum. To celebrate the opening of the museum’s new Nature’s Library gallery, and running alongside the bus tours and “collection station”, this After Hours event is all about nature. Sip a glass or wine and explore the gallery, take an artist’s tour of the All Other Things Being Equal exhibition or see a jewellery display by Jade Mellor, inspired by the museum’s collection. 5pm-9pm, Manchester Museum, free.

Friday 17 May 2013

An exhibition in a night with Richard Wentworth. The Manchester International Festival artist uses the objects donated the previous night to curate an exhibition in a night at the Whitworth. Watch one of Britain’s most successful artists at work; see how he uses the raw materials you supplied to create something entirely new. 7.30pm-10.30pm, The Whitworth, free.

After Hours at the Whitworth. In a continuation of its successful late night series of openings, expect live performance, art and music from the Whitworth. 7.30pm-10.30pm, The Whitworth, free.

Fanatic Live: Football and Fashion, An Audience with Cass Pennant. Ever since the 1960s, fashion, youth culture and football have combined. Cass Pennant, a former member of West Ham’s notorious Inter-City Firm in the 1980s, was a significant figure in the Casuals movement that defined what became an internationally-recognised style. Pennant has since turned novelist and filmmaker and can claim to have a unique understanding of the relationship between football and fashion. Join us for an after-hours look at the exhibition Strike a Pose, followed by a screening of Pennant’s extraordinary feature documentary, Casuals – plus an exclusive Q&A with the man himself. This event is run by Ear to the Ground as part of its Fanatic Live series. 6pm-9.30pm, National Football Museum, free (but booking required).

Luke Fowler’s new film at The Working Class Movement Library. This gem of a library opens late on Friday and from 7pm you can browse its exhibition the marks the 50th anniversary of E.P. Thompson’s seminal text, The Making of the English Working Class.  At 7.30pm, watch Luke Fowler’s new film (inspired by Thompson’s life), The Poor Stockinger: The Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott. Fowler is a Turner Prize-shortlisted artist and this, an hour-long film, mixes archive footage with newly-shot material to create an evocative video essay about E.P. Thompson.  It captures a moment of optimism, in which Thompson’s ideas for progressive education came together with political resistance and activism. The film was originally commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Film and Video Umbrella. 7.30pm, Working Class Movement Library, free.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Protest Music Festival. Taking its inspiration from The Art of Protest exhibition, the People’s History Museum stages a protest music session. Kicking things off is singer-songwriter Quiet Loner, whose performance includes songs from his album, Greedy Magicians, along with performances from acclaimed poet Longfella. Later, NOISE introduces NOISEstock, an interactive “sit-in” within the exhibition itself, complete with many musical acts. 3pm-5pm (Quiet Loner/Longfella); 5pm-8pm (NOISE stock), People’s History Museum, free. Tweet your contributions using #ProtestFest

Anguish & Enthusiasm Film Forum at Cornerhouse. As usual, the Cornerhouse galleries are open until 8pm, giving you a chance to see its current exhibition – plus, on Saturday 18 May, it hosts an Artists’ Film Forum. Watch three films, including John Lalor’s Incident Urbain (2012). In it, two men stroll around the French National Library, engaged in an increasingly intense conversation about the environment around them – a conversation that builds to a dramatic end. The artist and filmmaker John Lalor takes part in a post-screening Q&A. 6pm (Artists’ Film Forum, plus galleries open until 8pm), Cornerhouse, £1.50/£3 for the forum, galleries free.

Culture Guides


Cinemas might be closed but independent venues and distributors need any help they can get. We look at some films you can stream and places to donate.

Phoebe Davies: Points of Rupture at Site Gallery in Sheffield


Art and women’s wrestling, Ancient Akkadian gravesites and invented artefacts – check out this month’s pick of exhibitions from across the north.

The elves and the shoemaker. Two green puppets with a male and female actor either side of them.


Need some inspiration for fun and creative family days out? Look no further than our top picks for families across Manchester and the north.

Carcanet exhibition: Carcanet poets Michael Schmidt and Michael Symmons Roberts.


News of books just out and books worth revisiting, even if you can’t get to the events yourself. Plus a fabulous new exhibition about independent publisher Carcanet, on for the next six months…


Discover the best live music coming up in Manchester and the north this spring and, dare we say it, summer!

Theatre in Manchester


Bringing opera, dance, fierce experimental performance and new writing, there’s much to enjoy in our guide to the best theatre in Manchester and the North.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester.

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

It’s time to find the best restaurants for the weeks ahead. Here’s our guide to the best Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

tours and activities

Tours and Activities

Expect thrills, informative discussion, politically charged tours and wobbly towns in this month’s guide of Tours and Activities.

Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.

Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.

Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.