Whitworth Art Gallery

Last updated

The Whitworth
Whitworth Gallery.JPG
Former name The Whitworth Institute and Park
Established 1889
Location Manchester, England
Coordinates 53°27′37″N2°13′46″W / 53.460278°N 2.229444°W / 53.460278; -2.229444 Coordinates: 53°27′37″N2°13′46″W / 53.460278°N 2.229444°W / 53.460278; -2.229444
Founder Robert Darbishire
Director Nick Merriman
Owner University of Manchester
Website www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk

The Whitworth is an art gallery in Manchester, England, containing about 55,000 items in its collection. The gallery is located in Whitworth Park and is part of the University of Manchester.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 3.2 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Whitworth Park

Whitworth Park is a public park in south Manchester, England, and the location of the Whitworth Art Gallery. To the north are the University of Manchester's student residences known as "Toblerones". It was historically in Chorlton on Medlock but is now included in the Moss Side ward.

University of Manchester public research university in Manchester, England

The University of Manchester is a public research university in Manchester, England, formed in 2004 by the merger of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the Victoria University of Manchester. The University of Manchester is a red brick university, a product of the civic university movement of the late 19th century.


In 2015, the Whitworth reopened after it was transformed by a £15 million capital redevelopment that doubled its exhibition spaces, restored period features and opened itself up to its surrounding park. The gallery received more than 440,000 visitors in its first year and was awarded the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year prize in 2015. [1]

Art Fund organization

Art Fund is an independent membership-based British charity, which raises funds to aid the acquisition of artworks for the nation. It gives grants and acts as a channel for many gifts and bequests, as well as lobbying on behalf of museums and galleries and their users. It relies on members' subscriptions and public donations for funds and does not receive funding from the government or the National Lottery.

Museum of the Year

The Museum of the Year Award, formerly known as the Gulbenkian Prize and the Art Fund Prize, is an annual prize awarded to a museum or gallery in the United Kingdom for a "track record of imagination, innovation and excellence". A single award of £100,000, Britain's biggest single art prize, is presented to a museum or gallery, large or small, anywhere in the UK, whose entry, in the opinion of the judges, best demonstrates a track record of imagination, innovation and excellence through work mainly undertaken during the previous calendar year.

In June 2017, Maria Balshaw stepped down as the director to take up her new role as the Director of Tate. Nick Merriman is acting Interim Director of the Whitworth.

Nick Merriman is the director of the Horniman Museum. Previously he was the director of the Manchester Museum in Manchester, England. As of 1 June 2017, Merriman also acted as interim director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester. Previously Merriman worked at the Museum of London and University College, London. In April 2017 he was made honorary professor of museum studies in the University of Manchester. He is known for his contributions to the development of public archaeology and museum studies, and for influencing the heritage sector around issues of cultural diversity, sustainability and the future of collections. He is the chair of the Rothesay Pavilion Charity.


The gallery was founded in 1889 by Robert Dukinfield Darbishire with a donation from Sir Joseph Whitworth, as The Whitworth Institute and Park. The first building was completed in 1908. [2] In 1958 the gallery became part of the University of Manchester. [3]

Robert Dukinfield Darbishire (1826–1908) was a prominent Manchester lawyer and philanthropist.

Joseph Whitworth English engineer, entrepreneur

Sir Joseph Whitworth, 1st Baronet was an English engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist. In 1841, he devised the British Standard Whitworth system, which created an accepted standard for screw threads. Whitworth also created the Whitworth rifle, often called the "sharpshooter" because of its accuracy and considered one of the earliest examples of a sniper rifle.

In October 1995 the mezzanine court in the centre of the building was opened. The new gallery, designed chiefly for the display of sculpture, won a RIBA regional award. [4] In 2010 the art gallery received 172,000 visitors, making it one of Greater Manchester's ten most-visited tourist attractions. [5]

In February 2015, the Whitworth reopened after a £15 million capital redevelopment and received over 440,000 visitors in its first reopening year. It was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize and won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year [1] in 2015.

2003 theft

On Saturday 26 April 2003, three paintings — Van Gogh's The Fortification of Paris with Houses, Picasso's Poverty and Gauguin's Tahitian Landscape – were stolen from the gallery. [6] [7] They were later found rolled up in a nearby public toilet and were subsequently put back on display. [8]


The Grade II listed gallery was built between 1895 and 1900 in a free Jacobean style to the designs of J.W. Beaumont. The gallery consisting two storeys and a basement is constructed of red brick with bands and dressings of matching terracotta and has green slate roofs. Its nine-bay main range has two towers and a large projecting semi-circular porch with a screen of paired stone Ionic columns and a stone frieze below a balustraded parapet. [9]

Refurbishment and extension

The Whitworth Gallery extension Whitworth Gallery extension (16967657572).jpg
The Whitworth Gallery extension

An architectural competition was launched by RIBA Competitions to design an extension in 2008 and funding was secured in February 2011. [10] [11] In September 2013 the gallery closed for refurbishment and extension works. [12] The £15 million redevelopment was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the University of Manchester. [12] The refurbishment works, undertaken by architects MUMA envisaged the gallery reopening to the public by summer 2014, [12] but complications have delayed the opening. [13]

The development includes expanded gallery areas, a learning studio, study centre, an art garden and cafe. Developers have constructed a glass, stainless steel and brick extension consisting of two wings which extend into Whitworth Park from the back of the gallery building. The wings are connected by a glass promenade. The extension means the gallery is a third larger than previously. [13]

The extension, which opened on 14 February 2015 doubles the gallery's public space. It will provide more space for displaying the 55,000 items in the gallery's collection and link the building to Whitworth Park. [14]

The refurbishment and extension work resulted in the development winning a RIBA National Award in 2015 and subsequently being shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize. [15] The Whitworth won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year award in 2015. [1]


The Whitworth has notable collections of watercolours, sculptures, wallpapers and textiles. The gallery focuses on modern artists, and the art collections include works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ford Madox Brown, Eduardo Paolozzi, Francis Bacon, William Blake, David Hockney, L. S. Lowry, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, and a fine collection of works by J. M. W. Turner. One of its most famous works is the marble sculpture Genesis (1929–31) by Sir Jacob Epstein.

See also

Related Research Articles

Tate St Ives art gallery in St Ives, Cornwall, England

Tate St Ives is an art gallery in St Ives, Cornwall, England, exhibiting work by modern British artists with links to the St Ives area. The Tate also took over management of another museum in the town, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, in 1980.

Stirling Prize British prize for excellence in architecture (founded 1996)

The Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize is a British prize for excellence in architecture. It is named after the architect James Stirling, organised and awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The RIBA Stirling Prize is presented to "the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year." The architects must be RIBA members. Until 2014 the building could be anywhere in the European Union, but since 2015 has had to be in the UK. In the past the award has come with a £20,000 prize, but currently it carries no prize money.

Manchester Art Gallery publicly owned art gallery in Manchester, UK

Manchester Art Gallery, formerly Manchester City Art Gallery, is a publicly owned art museum on Mosley Street in Manchester city centre. The main gallery premises were built for a learned society in 1823 and today its collection occupies three connected buildings, two of which were designed by Sir Charles Barry. Both Barry's buildings are listed. The building that links them was designed by Hopkins Architects following an architectural design competition managed by RIBA Competitions. It opened in 2002 following a major renovation and expansion project undertaken by the art gallery.

Foster + Partners is a British international studio for architecture and integrated design, with headquarters in London. The practice is led by its founder and chairman, Norman Foster, and has constructed many high-profile glass-and-steel buildings.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum museum and art gallery near Glasgow in Scotland

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a museum and art gallery in Glasgow, Scotland. It reopened in 2006 after a three-year refurbishment and since then has been one of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions.

Richard Murphy OBE is an architect and businessman. He is the founder and principal architect of Richard Murphy Architects, an architectural firm operating in Edinburgh. He is winner of the 2016 RIBA House of the year.

Art Gallery of New South Wales public gallery in Sydney

The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), located in The Domain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, is the most important public gallery in Sydney and one of the largest in Australia. The Gallery's first public exhibition opened in 1874. Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian art, European and Asian art. A dedicated Asian Gallery was opened in 2003.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki art museum in Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is the principal public gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, and has the most extensive collection of national and international art in New Zealand. It frequently hosts travelling international exhibitions.

The Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) is a School of Architecture, jointly administered by University of Manchester and the Manchester Metropolitan University in the city of Manchester, England.

National Museum of Scotland combined museum in Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, was formed in 2006 with the merger of the new Museum of Scotland, with collections relating to Scottish antiquities, culture and history, and the adjacent Royal Museum, with collections covering science and technology, natural history, and world cultures. The two connected buildings stand beside each other on Chambers Street, by the intersection with the George IV Bridge, in central Edinburgh. The museum is part of National Museums Scotland. Admission is free.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum museum and art gallery in Exeter, Devon

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) is a museum and art gallery in Exeter, Devon, the largest in the city. It holds significant and diverse collections in areas such as zoology, anthropology, fine art, local and overseas archaeology, and geology. Altogether the museum holds over one million objects, of which a small percentage is on permanent public display. It is a 'Major Partner Museum' (MPM) under the Arts Council England administered programme of strategic investment, which means RAMM receives funding (2012–15) to develop its services. RAMM receives this funding in partnership with Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery. Previously they were described as 'hub museums' under the 'Renaissance' Programme for regional museums which operated between 2002–11 and funded by the now defunct Museums Libraries & Archives Council (MLA).

Rick Mather was an American-born architect working in England. Born in Portland, Oregon and awarded a B.arch. at the University of Oregon in 1961, he came to London in 1963 where he became a leading figure at the Architectural Association in the 1970s, and in 1973 founded his own practice, Rick Mather Architects.

Fuglsang Art Museum Art museum in Lolland, Denmark

Fuglsang Art Museum is an art museum set in rural surroundings in Guldborgsund Municipality on the island of Lolland in Denmark. It is part of the Fuglsang Cultural Centre. The museum features Danish art with an emphasis on artists and motifs of local provenance.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios is a British architectural design firm, established in 1978, with offices in Bath, London, Manchester, Belfast and Edinburgh. The firm is known for its pioneering work in sustainable design and social design agenda.

The Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery in West Yorkshire, England

The Hepworth Wakefield is an art museum in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, which opened on 21 May 2011. The gallery is situated on the south side of the River Calder and takes its name from artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth who was born and educated in the city.

The year 2012 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.

RIBA Competitions is the Royal Institute of British Architects' unit dedicated to organising architectural and other design-related competitions.

The year 2015 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.

Maria Jane Balshaw CBE is director of the Tate art museums and galleries. The appointment was confirmed by the UK Prime Minister on 16 January 2017, making her the first female director of the Tate.[7][8]


  1. 1 2 3 Pes, Javier (2 July 2015). "Whitworth named UK museum of the year". The Art Newspaper . Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  2. Edward Morris (2001), Public Art Collections in North-West England: A History and Guide, Liverpool University Press, ISBN   0-85323-527-9
  3. "History".
  4. "Launch of Architecture Week North West: 16– 25 June". Arts Council / Architecture Week. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original (doc) on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  5. Brooks-Pollock, Tom (30 November 2011). "Lowry gallery and theatre is most popular tourist attraction in Greater Manchester". Manchester Evening News . menmedia.co.uk. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  6. BBC News (28 April 2003). "Art masterpieces stolen in raid" . Retrieved 10 March 2008.
  7. Judith Moritz (28 April 2003). BBC News 24 (ram). BBC News. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
  8. BBC News (28 April 2003). "Stolen paintings can be repaired" . Retrieved 10 March 2008.
  9. Historic England. "Whitworth Gallery (1246569)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  10. "The Whitworth Art Gallery's new designs". Manchester Confidential. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
  11. "Whitworth Art Gallery gets £8m to double public space". BBC News. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
  12. 1 2 3 Bainbridge, Pete (2013-09-04). "Whitworth Art Gallery closes doors for year-long £15m revamp". Manchester Evening News. Manchester. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  13. 1 2 Walters, Sarah (2014-09-16). "Whitworth Gallery confirms February reopening following delays with the ambitious redesign". Manchester Evening News. Manchester. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  14. "The Tales of One City". artsindustry.co.uk. 17 June 2011. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016.
  15. "Whitworth gallery extension up for Stirling architecture prize". BBC News. 2015-07-16. Retrieved 2015-10-13.