Away from the buzz of London, between them Manchester and Salford arguably have one of the highest concentrations of fantastic art galleries in England. Featuring our pick of larger institutions and smaller independent spaces, here we scrape the surface of what both cities have to offer. And it’s all free.
Here are our picks
The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6ER - Visit now
Winner of Visit England’s gold prize for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2016 and Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 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.
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. The Grade I-listed building’s neo-Classical design is also by the same architect behind Highclere Castle (or Downton Abbey).
Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4GB - Visit now
“Castlefield Gallery is the centre to the periphery, which in my thinking is the best position” according to artist Ryan Gander. The small but influential gallery that presents thought-provoking work by local, national and international artists at key stages in their career. Its alumni include Turner Prize winners.
The Holden Gallery, Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6BR - Visit now
Part of Manchester School of Art just off the city’s lively Oxford Road, Holden Gallery presents a critically-engaged programme of exhibitions focusing on thematic ideas explored through the work of key contemporary artists.
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 Manchester’s 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.
HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now
HOME is an arts complex that includes 500 square metres of gallery space in its £25m building. The visual arts team has continued the innovative programme of exhibitions that became the Cornerhouse’s trademark.
Paradise Works, East Philip Street, Salford, M3 7LE - Visit now
Paradise Works is an artist studios and gallery committed to sustaining artist-led activity in Greater Manchester. Its exhibition space is a platform for an ongoing programme of critically engaged exhibitions, film screenings, projects and events.
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.
Rogue Artists’ Studios, Former Varna Street Primary School, Openshaw, Manchester, M11 1WP - Visit now
Now based in a former Victorian primary school in Openshaw, Rogue is one of the largest independent studio groups in the North West and runs a programme of temporary exhibitions, residency projects and one-off events in its Project Space.