Salford museum and art gallery exterior

Salford, Greater Manchester

Creative Tourist

Cross over the River Irwell, and you’ll find yourself in another city entirely – Salford. You’ll barely feel the transition, though; despite locals who are fierce about the fact that Salford is a city in its own right, it’s only separated from Manchester by the width of the river, distance-wise. Which is not to say that you won’t see differences between the two.

Gritty urban realism has been this city’s stock in trade since L.S. Lowry painted his very first matchstick man. Some will have read about it in Love on the Dole. Some will have seen it depicted in kitchen sink dramas or Corrie. And others will forever associate the city with John Cooper Clarke rasping his way through ‘Evidently Chickentown’, or the dystopian anthems of Joy Division.

Now, however, Salford has an up-and-coming feel; the Chapel Street area of the city, the focus of an ongoing regeneration project, is home to a creative community including Hot Bed Press and over 100 artists and 50 innovative businesses at Islington Mill. If you’re visiting around May, look out for the highlight of Salford’s strong music scene, Sounds from the Other City festival, which brings an incendiary mix of live bands, literary readings and art hi-jinks to an eclectic selection of venues.

The Council-run Salford Museum and Art Gallery is a friendly city museum with special appeal to families, and the nearby Working Class Movement Library provides a fascinating look at the past. The personal collection of labour historians Ruth and Edmund Frow, it’s a veritable treasure trove of material dating back to the 1760s. Ordsall Hall, the city’s beautifully restored (and supposedly haunted) Tudor mansion, has a busy programme of events and activities all year round, including events as part of horror film festival Grimmfest.

Salford inspires fierce loyalty among its inhabitants. Spend any significant period of time here, and you may begin to understand why.

Discover our top picks

Poppy, Esme, Oleanna, Gracie and Kate, 2014. Personal Feeling is the main thing - Chantal Joffe at The Lowry, Salford
Exhibitions 19 May 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

Salford Royal Academy Takeover

To mark its 250th birthday, the Royal Academy of Arts in London has launched a nationwide programme of exhibitions, displays, tours, talks and one-off events. Here we take a look at what’s going on in Salford – home of RA LS Lowry and now a growing independent art scene.

The Squid and the Whale, 2017, Chantal Joffe. Image courtesy of The Lowry
Exhibitions 19 May–2 September 2018, FREE

Personal Feeling is the main thing – Chantal Joffe at The Lowry

Perhaps one of the most celebrated contemporary British painters today, Chantal Joffe’s first major solo exhibition in the North of England – Personal Feeling is the Main Thing at The Lowry – shines a light on the internal landscape of motherhood, childhood and adolescence with bold honesty.

Families 6 February–31 December 2018, FREE

Lark Hill Place 1918 at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Investigate the brand new 1918 setting for atmospheric street installation Lark Hill Place, then let loose in Peel Park.

PRINT UnLtd. at Salford University and Art Gallery
Exhibitions 26 May–14 October 2018, FREE

PRINT UnLtd. at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

A pop-up exhibition of works celebrating, challenging and questioning printmaking, catch PRINT UnLtd. at Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

RA Takeover Groundbreakers at Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Exhibitions 28 November 2018, from £4.5

Danny Morrell: RA Takeover Groundbreakers at Salford Museum & Art Gallery

For RA Takeover Groundbreakers at Salford Museum & Art Gallery, art historian Danny Morrell focuses on some of the groundbreaking artists featured in the Royal Academy Takeover exhibition.

Danny Morrell focuses on some of the groundbreaking artists featured in the Royal Academy Takeover exhibition.

Supported by the Friends of Salford Museums Association.

Wonders and Horrors of the Royal Academy Collection at Salford Museum & Art Gallery
Exhibitions 11 February 2019, from £8

Wonders and Horrors of the Royal Academy Collection at Salford Museum & Art Gallery

Join Head of Collections at the Royal Academy, Maurice Davis, for a fascinating look at some of the most remarkable items included in the world-renowned institution’s vast collection. Presented at Salford Museum & Art Gallery.

Royal Academy Readers: Image through Text & Text through Image with Dr. Mariana Casale at Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Exhibitions 5 September 2018, FREE

Royal Academy Readers: Image through Text & Text through Image with Dr. Mariana Casale at Salford Museum & Art Gallery

Join author, bibliotherapist and founder of the Manchester and Buenos Aires based Reading Rooms project, Dr. Mariana Casale, for a unique reading experience centred around an important selection of artworks on special loan from the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

People and Places of the Royal Academy Exhibition event at Ordsall Hall, Salford – Royal Academy Takeiver
Exhibitions 16 September 2018, from £4.5

People and Places of the Royal Academy Exhibition event: Danny Morrell at Ordsall Hall

Art Historian Danny Morrell provides an insight into the intriguing work of some of the lesser known Royal Academicians featured in the People and Places of the Royal Academy exhibition at Ordsall Hall.

William Roberts RA, Combat, 1966. Image courtesy of Art UK
Exhibitions 30 June 2018–24 February 2019, FREE

The Royal Academy Takeover: The Exhibition

Salford Museum & Art Gallery and Ordsall Hall delve into their collections to present a two-part exhibition featuring significant prints, drawings and sculptures by former Royal Academicians as part of a nationwide programme marking the institution’s 250th birthday.

Couture Secession at Caustic Coastal, Salford
Exhibitions 4 August–15 September 2018, FREE

Couture Secession at Caustic Coastal

Salford-based independent art label Caustic Coastal presents Couture Secession featuring  one fresco, one rainbow, gold dust, mp4, mp3, watercolour and more.

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