Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

Absolute top of our list of exhibition highlights from across the north this summer has to be the 10th anniversary edition of Liverpool Biennial, Beautiful world, where are you?, which opens on Saturday and runs until 28 October. The free festival is the largest of its kind in the UK and this year takes place in over 20 galleries, public spaces and unusual locations throughout the city. Explore our full guide here.

But that’s not all. We’re also incredibly excited for S1 Artspace’s official re-opening and inaugural exhibition, Love Among the Ruins, at its new home: the iconic Park Hill estate in Sheffield. (Find more Steel City gallery recommendations here.) While, back in Manchester, CFCCA has just launched Seasons for Change; a pioneering new series of exhibitions and debates designed to encourage discussion around some of the biggest environmental issues facing the world today, starting with water scarcity. And BiblioTECH, presented at Manchester’s magnificent neoclassical Portico Library, asks: with digital archives, virtual libraries and palm-sized electronic devices carrying near limitless amounts of reading material, what role will books play in the future?

Finally; we also urge you to head further up the country this summer to Newcastle and Gateshead where the Great Exhibition of the North explores the nature and essence of northern identity in 21st century Britain. Surely a somewhat timely concern in the context of increasingly devolution.

Here are our picks

More in Exhibitions

Exhibitions 3 April 2017–2 September 2018, FREE

Constellations: Refiguring American Abstraction at Tate Liverpool

A free new display made up of works by towering post-war American artists including Mark Rothko, Hedda Sterne and Andy Warhol.

Annual Banner Changeover 2018, courtesy of the People's History Museum
Education 20 January 2018–6 January 2019, FREE

Annual Banner Changeover 2018 at the People’s History Museum

Explore the story of democracy through a special display of banners that were integral to the women’s suffrage movement, as well as other campaigns for representation at the People’s History Museum.

China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors. World Museum, Liverpool
Exhibitions 9 February–28 October 2018, from £5.50

China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors at World Museum Liverpool

Encounter objects from one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries, spanning almost 1,000 years of Chinese history, at China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors.

Alison Wilding at the Whitworth
Exhibitions 16 February–12 August 2018, FREE

Alison Wilding at the Whitworth

The Whitworth presents an exhibition of work by one of Britain’s foremost sculptors, Alison Wilding, including a new piece that has never previously been publicly shown.

Exhibitions 23 February 2018–6 January 2019, FREE

Annie Swynnerton: Painting Light and Hope at Manchester Art Gallery

The first major retrospective of work by the radical Manchester artist and feminist campaigner, Annie Swynnerton, opens in nearly 100 years at Manchester Art Gallery.

Exhibitions 24 March–2 September 2018, FREE

Art, Games and Play: Don Pavey and other Collections at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Visit this exhibition celebrating the close relationship between art, games and play then let loose in YSP’s incredible parkland.

Exhibitions 24 March 2018–7 April 2019, FREE

Exchanges at The Whitworth

Exchanges at The Whitworth sets art and artists together, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in opposition – always with insight and intention.

Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves at The Whitworth, Manchester
Exhibitions 30 March–28 August 2018, FREE

Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves at The Whitworth

Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves is the most recent in a series of major moving image acquisitions by The Whitworth, and was supported through Art Fund’s Moving Image Fund.

Bodies of Colour: Breaking with Stereotypes in the Wallpaper Collection at The Whitworth Art Gallery
Exhibitions 4 May 2018–19 May 2019, FREE

Bodies of Colour: Breaking with Stereotypes in the Wallpaper Collection at The Whitworth

This latest exhibition uses the Whitworth’s extensive and significant wallpaper collection to focus on how Imperial attitudes to people are reflected in wallpaper.

Culture Guides



Who says summer is a quiet time for theatre? We’ve got open-air performances, free interactive family events, a ten-day summer festival and much more in our theatre guide.

Just So fish festivalgoer courtesy Teneigh


The best outdoor and indoor adventures to keep us all busy. Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank, festival fever at bluedot and Just So and astonishing circus capers with Contact in the City.

Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow


Despite the traditional summer break of many of our favourite nights, there’s still plenty of poetry and prose to catch, from indie publisher fairs and national magazine launches to a brand-new series of relaxed lectures and an exhibition dedicated to banned books. And if you don’t like sitting still for too long, there’s even a literature trail or two to check out…


While this summer’s festivals – including bluedot, The Good Life Experience and Festival No. 6 – provide a welcome distraction, the likes of the RNCM and The Stoller Hall continue to provide adventurous programming.


Pop-up cinemas, outdoor screenings and movie marathons — we’ve got it all this summer.

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