Exhibitions

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Polly Checkland Harding, Exhibitions Editor

One clear thread that runs through a number of our current top exhibition picks is a fascination with the history and narratives that come to be associated with objects. Newly opened is Life of Objects at The John Rylands Library, an unusual showcase of the objects in the library’s collection, instead of its books and manuscripts (which span five millennia). Then there’s Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a stunning installation that draws on a mysterious, and controversial, backstory.

Further ahead is Object Lessons at Manchester Museum, an exhibition featuring finely crafted 19th century life science teaching objects, which we’re particularly excited about for its inclusion of extraordinary glass models by glassmakers Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, who were unparalleled in their work. Further ahead still is True Faith as part of Manchester International Festival 2017 (read our guide here): combining memorabilia with work by international artists, the exhibition charts the cultural significance of legendary Manchester bands Joy Division and New Order.

Here are our top 10 picks

  • 1. Object Lessons at Manchester Museum

    Two boxes of wax fruits depicted as in nature. Photography by Rosamond Purcell.

    Object Lessons at Manchester Museum, Manchester, 19 May–20 August 2017, free entry - Find Out More

    Extraordinary objects from the private collection of art collector George Loudon go on display to the public for the first time in Object Lessons at Manchester Museum – a showcase of 19th century life science teaching objects that blurs the boundary between art and science.

  • 2. MIF17: True Faith at Manchester Art Gallery

    Slater B. Bradley, Factory Icon, 2000/2017, Courtesy Slater Bradley Studio, Berlin and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo, © Slater B. Bradley

    MIF17: True Faith at Manchester Art Gallery at Manchester Art Gallery, Chinatown, 30 June–3 September 2017, free entry - Find Out More

    Part of the newly-announced Manchester International Festival programme is this exhibition of internationally acclaimed artists to mark the ongoing cultural significance of New Order and Joy Division.

  • 3. The Life of Objects at John Rylands Library

    Walt Whitman's flowers. Credit: The University of Manchester Library.

    The Life of Objects at The John Rylands Library, City Centre, 16 March–27 August 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Featuring objects including a fragment from the lining of Napoleon’s coffin, The John Rylands Library’s latest exhibition sets out to prove that a library’s stories are not just contained within books.

  • 4. Andrew McDonald at Castlefield Gallery

    Fence: Hammock (2017) at Andrew McDonald.

    Andrew McDonald at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield, 28 April–11 June 2017, free entry - Find Out More

    Hopeless repetition is a core theme in artist Andrew McDonald’s animated works – but who is responsible for the darkly comic loops the figures on screen perform? Find out in this significant solo show at Castlefield Gallery.

  • 5. Sooni Taraporevala: Home in the City, Bombay 1976 – Mumbai 2016 at the Whitworth

    Sooni Taraporevala Koli Grace Bombay 1976.

    Sooni Taraporevala: Home in the City, Bombay 1976 – Mumbai 2016 at The Whitworth, Manchester, 4 March 2017–1 January 2018, free entry - Visit now

    The first UK solo exhibition by photographer, screenwriter and filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala – organised as part of New North and South, a network of 11 arts organisations from across the North of England and South Asia.

  • 6. Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

    Ai Weiwei, Circle of Animals Zodiac Heads, 2010. Princeton. Courtesy the artist.

    Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 8 April 2017–22 April 2018, free entry - Find Out More

    An installation of 12 bronze zodiac heads by Ai Weiwei – one of the most viewed sculpture projects in the history of contemporary art – brings its fascinating history to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

  • 7. Never Going Underground at People’s History Museum

    Pits and Peverts Poster, 1984.

    Never Going Underground: the fight for LGBT+ rights at People’s History Museum, City Centre, 25 February–3 September 2017, free entry - Visit now

    January 1967: it’s illegal for men to have sex together, lesbianism is seen as a medical misfortune, and trans rights are non-existent. This exhibition at the People’s History Museum charts the fight for LGBT+ rights, opening in a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts.

  • 8. How much of this is fiction at FACT

    Maia Gusberti, How much of this is fiction 2014-ongoing. Image by Mark McNulty,

    How much of this is fiction at FACT, City Centre, 2 March–21 May 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Including a close replica of Julian Assange’s study at the Ecuadorian Embassy, How much of this is fiction is a major new exhibition of artists as tricksters – and a form of cultural response to the world of post-truth politics.

  • 9. …in Dark Times at Castlefield Gallery

    …in Dark Times at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield, 24 February–15 April 2017, free entry - Visit now

    Six contemporary artists feature in this exhibition at Castlefield Gallery, each exploring the ways in which screen based technologies and the online world puts distance between us and objects.

  • 10. La Movida at HOME

    Stefanos Tsivopoulous, Stranger Disco.

    Group exhibition: La Movida at HOME, Manchester, 14 April–17 July 2017, free entry - Find Out More

    HOME has just announced its next major exhibition – a reflection on the cultural and social revolution that took place in post-Franco Spain through new commissions and pre-existing, international works.

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