John Rylands Research Institute and Library

Susie Stubbs
Magic bowls event. Image shows The historic Reading Room in John Rylands Library
Image courtesy of John Rylands Library.

Opened in 1890, this neo-Gothic building says much about Manchester’s industrial fortunes. It was modelled on a traditional Oxford college library, but put together on a grand Mancunian scale. It cost £230,000 and nine years to build. It had air conditioning, electric light and dust-resistant bookcases. And it was commissioned by a grieving widow, Enriqueta Rylands, in memory of her husband, a man of religious conviction, a philanthropist of Victorian ambition and a remarkably successful textiles manufacturer. He must have been: it was his money, after all, that paid for the construction of the library and for the purchase of the theological and scholarly collections that originally stacked its shelves.

Although it is easy to wax lyrical and at length about the building itself, as impressive as its architecture are its collections: the rare printed texts that include preserved papyrus fragments, the letters of local author Elizabeth Gaskell and an original Gutenberg Bible. Part of The University of Manchester, over 250,000 items are stored here – spanning five millennia – alongside a further one million manuscripts and the archives of local families of note, including the letters and documents of the Earls of Stamford (of nearby Dunham Massey fame).

John Rylands Research Institute and Library boasts a well-stocked shop and café, an ideal spot for a cup of tea – with regular exhibitions and events also running throughout the year, it’s a destination venue for locals as well as visitors to the city. Just to stand in its glorious Historic Reading Room, surrounded on all sides by books, stained glass and statuary, is one of the greatest thrills of literary Manchester.

150 DeansgateManchesterM3 3EH View map
Telephone: 0161 306 0555 Visit Now

Accessibility

There is level access to all public areas except the old entrance hall and historic toilets.

Admission Charges

Free

Children and Families

Hands-on activities for kids

Commercial and Hire Services

Private hire available

Services and Facilities

Exhibitions, events, shop, cafe,

Opening Hours

  • Wednesday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Thursday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Friday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Saturday10:00am - 5:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

What's on near John Rylands Research Institute and Library

Until
ComedyManchester
Comedy Balloon

Every Wednesday at Ape & Apple, Manchester’s official underground comedy club, Comedy Balloon’s friendly and warm comedy night takes place.

free entry
MusicManchester
Manchester Psych Fest 2024

Manchester Psych Fest, the UK’s trailblazing psychedelic music and arts festival has announced a massive bill for its 2024 edition.

from £45.20

Where to go near John Rylands Research Institute and Library

City Centre
Restaurant
Gusto

Gusto Manchester is a lavish Italian restaurant just off Deansgate, with 1920s décor and an extensive menu.

Manchester
Restaurant
MUSU Restaurant & Bar

Musu is a modern Japanese restaurant and bar in Manchester City Centre, specialising in awe-inspiring food. We take an advance look at their festive menu. 

Culture Guides