Away from the buzz of London, between them Manchester and Salford arguably have one of the highest concentrations of fantastic art galleries in England – and we couldn’t be more excited by the prospect of them being allowed to reopen from 17 May onwards!
Featuring our pick of larger institutions and smaller independent spaces, here we scrape the surface of what the city has to offer, and when you’ll be able to visit from. Advanced booking is required in some cases – make sure to check each venue’s website for more details.
Here are our picks
Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4GB - Visit now
A small but influential gallery, Castlefield presents thought-provoking work by local, national and international artists at key stages in their career. It includes Turner Prize winners, such as Ryan Gander, among its alumni.
The plan is to reopen on 19 May with a five-day run of Obstructions – a rather unconventional group show about the freedoms within restriction, and rules that are sometimes there to be broken – followed by Nicola Ellis’ first major solo exhibition, Nicola Ellis and Ritherdon & Co Ltd: No gaps in the line.
The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6ER - Visit now
Winner of Art Fund’s Museum of the Year award 2015 following a major £15m redevelopment, the beautifully designed Whitworth Art Gallery is a true gem of a place. Its internationally important art collection is presented alongside a changing programme of contemporary exhibitions and outdoor sculpture, whilst the spectacular ‘café in the trees’ is well worth a visit alone.
The gallery will be welcoming visitors back from 19 May. Make sure to check out Imran Perretta: the destructors and White Psyche.
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 3JL - Visit now
Positioned at the very heart of the city, Manchester Art Gallery houses six centuries worth of fine art, ceramics, glass, furniture and costume, and presents a year-round programme of contemporary exhibitions by world-leading artists.
Also reopening on 19 May, catch Grayson’ Art Club – a hotly anticipated display of artwork created by the public documenting aspects of life during the pandemic – as well as Derek Jarman: Protest! and What is Manchester Art Gallery?
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market buildings, Thomas Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1EU - Visit now
Tucked away at the end of Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter, CFCCA is the number one place for experiencing Chinese contemporary art in the UK. Its dynamic programme of events and exhibitions explore and question the notion of ‘Chineseness’ in today’s world.
From 19 May, head along to see Omid Asadi: Autopsy of a Home, an exhibition that explores the diasporic experiences of migrants, and Multiplicities in Flux, which attempts to unpack the slippery concept of ‘Britishness’.
HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now
Manchester’s much-loved multi-arts centre HOME will be back in business from 17 May onwards!
We can’t wait to visit Soul Journey to Truth, an exhibition featuring 135 artworks by people living in prisons, secure settings, and on probation in the North West of England.
Saul Hay Gallery, Manchester, Railway Cottage, Off Castle Street, Manchester, M3 4LZ - Visit now
As a commercial gallery, canal-side independent Saul Hay is already open! If you haven’t yet, we recommend you head along immediately to see Brutal – an exhibition that examines the rapidly changing fabric of our urban surroundings.
Oceans Apart Studios in Salford, 24-26 King Street by Blackfriars, Salford, M3 7DG - Visit now
Oceans Apart is an artist studios and exhibition space located in an industrial-type building in Salford. Head along to catch Lovers Lane – an exhibition of paintings by fourteen artists whose work luxuriates in form, immediacy and the poetics of a Dionysian approach to painting.
Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Peel Park, The Crescent, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WU - Visit now
Once a favourite haunt of the great LS Lowry, Salford Museum & Art Gallery is a friendly destination with special appeal to families. Its collections focus on Victorian art and local social history, while its temporary exhibitions present work by contemporary artists from around the world.
Visitors will be welcomed back from 29 May onwards, coinciding with the launch of You Belong Here – a fantastic new exhibition celebrating Salford’s green spaces and the stories they contain.
Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre, Moss Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0DR - Visit now
This grand neoclassical building is home to temporary exhibitions of acclaimed international art, contemporary and historical collections, a beautifully-curated shop, and Tina’s tea rooms (serving excellent toasted teacakes). Well worth the tram ride.
Enjoy themed activities, and insights and reflections on the gallery’s collection, from the Bury team via BAM Online.
The Holden Gallery, Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6BR - Visit now
Manchester School of Art’s lovely Holden Gallery remains closed for now, but you can still enjoy works from a special online edition of its Interruptions series (showcasing interdisciplinary performances and events by artists at all stages in their career), released right at the beginning of lockdown.