The temporary closure of museums and galleries across the city (and world) over the last few months has been an urgent reminder of just how important these spaces and all that they offer are.
But culture has far from ground to a halt. The explosion of agility and resourcefulness that has been shown by artists and organisations in response to the restrictions imposed by lockdown has been incredible to witness. Exhibitions, programmes, even whole festivals have been reinvented for the online sphere; creative care packages delivered to local residents’ doors; historic collections brought to life digitally; and new artworks commissioned specifically for sofa-based experiences.
We won’t lie, the freedom of being able to wander around a gallery and experience works IRL is still sorely missed, however. Which is why the news that many of Manchester’s most loved art institutions are on the cusp of reopening is more than welcome. It’s not quite business as usual (you’ll have to book a ticket to visit Manchester Art Gallery, for example), so make sure you check each venue’s website for full information beforehand. But otherwise, grab a hand gel and face mask, here’s what we know so far.
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. Its alumni include Turner Prize winners, such as Ryan Gander.
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.
The Whitworth is open again now from Wednesday – Sunday, 11 am – 4.00 pm, but you will need to book a free ticket beforehand.
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.
Manchester Art Gallery are now open again Thursdays-Sundays from 11am-4pm. You’ll need to book tickets online in advance (free), but the Rosettis are ready and waiting, alongside a brand new display, What is Manchester Art Gallery?
Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre, Moss Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0DR - Visit now
This beautiful building is home to temporary exhibitions of acclaimed international art, contemporary and historical collections, an Art Shop selling handcrafted art, and Tina’s tea rooms.
Open since the middle of August with hours limited to 12-4pm on Thursdays to Saturdays for now. In the meantime, you can still enjoy themed activities and insights and reflections on the gallery’s collection from the Bury team via BAM Online and take an early look at Anna Reading’s Mark Tanner Sculpture Award exhibition, The Pothole.
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.
The gallery is welcoming visitors from Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm. With an eye to the months ahead, we’re also looking forward to the launch of its new commission, ‘nineteen ways of looking’ – a digital opera that responds to the COVID-19 pandemic – by artist and composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman.
Saul Hay Gallery, Manchester, Railway Cottage, Off Castle Street, Manchester, M3 4LZ - Visit now
Castlefield Canal-side gallery space Saul Hay is open again and welcoming visitors back with FORM – its first exhibition to be dedicated solely to sculpture (perhaps the medium that translates least well to screens). The show will feature work by a range of acclaimed contemporary artists, including Halima Cassell whose exhibition of geometric ceramics inspired by cultures from around the world was one of the highlights of Manchester Art Gallery’s 2019 programme.
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.
A phased reopening of Salford Museum and Art Gallery began in August. The shop and cafe are open and you can book a 30-minute slot to visit Lark Hill Place or book an appointment in the Local History Library. They are open Tuesday – Sunday from 11.30am – 4pm.
HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now
From art at home to art at… sorry. Avoiding all puns, we’re delighted to hear that Manchester’s much-loved arts centre HOME open again now. The phased reopening has started with the cinemas, bars and restaurant, then the theatre, gallery and other activity will follow suit in the weeks after.
The Holden Gallery, Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6BR - Visit now
Manchester School of Art’s lovely Holden Gallery remains closed until the New Year, 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.
The Weavers Factory, Uppermill, 13 New Street, Uppermill, Greater Manchester, OL3 6AU - Visit now
Still a relatively new kid on the block, the Weavers Factory (aka, Kettle’s Yard of the north?) in Uppermill is taking a short break for now but will be back next year on March 6th with an exhibition of work by artists Lisa Clare, Alison Scott, Suzanne Bethell and Tina Kypriadis of Salford’s Hot Bed Press, offering a new look at the unique landscape of Saddleworth.