Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

The re-opening of bars, restaurants, shops, gyms and hairdressers this April has put a spring in many people’s step, and hopefully galleries are not far behind with many scheduled to welcome visitors back in May. There’s much to look forward to, including REMOTE WORK and Lubaina Himid: The Mourning Kangas – two shows wrapped inside one – at Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool, and Top Secret – an exhibition curated in partnership with expert advisors from GCHQ, at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.

Over the past year, artists and art organisations have become highly adept at finding new ways to present art, however, and we still have plenty to look forward to outside of the traditional gallery space. Among these, Abandon Normal Devices – the nomadic festival of digital culture, art and film – is returning to the cultural landscape with a water-borne, water-inspired programme that makes use of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey in an entirely new way. The 2021 edition is centred around an urgent message concerning the damage humans are causing to the lakes, rivers and oceans of this planet. The need to repair our relationship with the natural world also lies at the heart of Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds – a new artist commission sited within a stand of birch trees at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, where visitors will be invited to enter into an act of solitary communion with nature.

A different kind of communion with nature fuels the Turner Prize-winning artist Tai Shani’s major new digital commission for Manchester International Festival’s Virtual Factory series. Unfolding as a nine-part hallucinatory journey across time and space, The Neon Hieroglyph explores the potential of psychedelic drugs to open a powerful imaginative space from which new visions of society and alternative possible futures can emerge. Buckle up, you’re in for a trip.

Here are our picks

More in Exhibitions

Damien Hirst at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Exhibitions Until 1 April 2022, FREE

Damien Hirst at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Experience YBA artist Damien Hirst’s towering and provocative outdoor sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Trading Station: how hot drinks shape our lives – exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibitions Until 14 December 2021, FREE

Trading Station: how hot drinks shape our lives at Manchester Art Gallery

Trading Station at Manchester Art Gallery charts the history and changing social role of hot drinks in our lives.

These Lancashire Women are Witches in Politics with The Turnpike
Exhibitions Until 31 January 2022, FREE

These Lancashire Women are Witches in Politics with The Turnpike

A collaborative project that takes inspiration from the history of the Leigh Female Reformers of 1819 and the monstrous representations of them in the media of the time.

Posters from the civil rights era – an online exhibition
Exhibitions Until 30 June 2021, FREE

Posters from the Irish civil rights era – Online with the Working Class Movement Library

Working Class Movement Library presents an online exhibition of powerful posters made by young activists fighting for civil rights in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

What it is to be here: Colonisation and Resistance – Online at The Portico Library
Exhibitions Until 27 July 2021, FREE

What it is to be here: Colonisation and Resistance – Online at The Portico Library

The Portico Library marks 250 years since British explorer James Cook first landed on the shores of what we now call Australia with an online exhibition that explores the history of violence and resistance that followed.

What is Manchester Art Gallery?
Exhibitions Until 31 January 2023, FREE

What is Manchester Art Gallery? at Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery reopens with a thought-provoking new exhibition that delves into the history of the public institution and its role within the city.

Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 9 May 2021, from £11

Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool presents a major retrospective of work by Don McCullin, widely considered to be one of the greatest photojournalists of our time.

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North
Exhibitions Until 24 September 2021, FREE

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire at Imperial War Museum North takes a close look at the moral dilemmas surrounding overseas aid.

Fun and Games The Portico Library Joseph Strutt The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England
Exhibitions Until 24 May 2021, FREE

Fun & Games: Playtime, Past & Present at The Portico Library and Online

Fun & Games at The Portico Library explores the evolution and traditions of games and play throughout the ages up to today.

Culture Guides

Cinema in Manchester and the North

We look at online festivals, new streaming releases and some newly announced outdoor cinema screenings.

Family Things to do in Manchester


Need some inspiration for online activities and creative family fun? Look no further than our top picks online for families across Manchester and the North.

Writer and translator Jhumpa Lahiri.


As the land of live literature tentatively opens the door a crack, we have some talks and walks IRL to flag up and a whole host of online dates for your diary this May, a jam-packed month of festival readings, digital book launches and spoken word showcases…


We look ahead to the return of physical gigs, selecting a handful of live shows in May and June, as well as some online concerts to tide us over.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


You’ll find all the best live-streamed shows, online festivals and live outdoor performance in our theatre guide this month.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Dapur Malaysia

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

It’s the March edition of the Food and Drink Guide to Manchester and the North and things are slowly starting to feel more promising. Spring is here, the weather is mostly warming up and in just a few weeks we’ll be allowed to eat and drink outside at venues with outside space.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

Online events

Discover the best things to do online from the organisations we love in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter and the flowers of spring have truly sprung. We’re welcoming in the new season with a guide of Tours and Activities that will inspire you to make, learn and move.