The Mancunion

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10 alternative gallery spaces in Manchester

Ten unconventional gallery spaces in central Manchester to find art and inspiration


In Manchester, we’re somewhat spoilt when it comes to large institutions providing innovative and contemporary exhibitions such as the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Manchester Art Gallery. They’re so close to Oxford Road as well — so it’s easy to get complacent.  However here we have ten alternative spots around Manchester to look out for and explore for yourself:

1.   HOME

Renowned for its work with film and theatre, HOME plays a pivotal role in creating a platform for diverse and independent art of all forms – yet you mustn’t overlook the exhibitions which adorn their walls.

2.   The Lowry

Set in Salford Quays, The Lowry is a registered charity committed to visual and performing arts. Manchester itself often acts as a silent central subject matter as its permanent exhibition focuses on the work of L.S. Lowry whilst also host to a variety of contemporary exhibits.

3.   People’s History Museum

Set in a former Edwardian pumping station, their aim is to prove “there have always been ideas worth fighting for”, as their galleries take a political and historical focus rooted in Manchester’s past.

4.   Manchester Craft and Design Centre

A former Victorian fish market building tucked away in the Northern Quarter houses local designers and makers in an array of individual studios.

5.   John Rylands Library

The ornate neo-Gothic building in Deansgate is a work of art. However, it also houses a permanent collection of artefacts and manuscripts, as well as offering changing exhibitions.

6.   Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFFCA)

With a focus on emerging artists, the CFFCA provide a variety of exhibitions, workshops and residencies that engage in the trans-cultural debates which are central to Manchester’s diversity.

7.   Nexus Art Café

It’s as if you’re in someone’s front room as you enter this self-defined “creative space” in the Northern Quarter. The focus on community and grass root organisations provides a free exhibition space that ensures there will always be something different on display.

8.   The Wonder Inn

This unassuming three-story building is curiously inviting from the outside; filled with plants and intimate glimmering lights as you enter, the second floor alternatively is host to a large open plan gallery space with events focussed around wellness and creativity.

9.   Castlefield Gallery

With a focus on contemporary artists and practise, we see a shift here to high art. The Gallery is able to boast that it has produced Turner Prize nominees and winners with their exhibitions.

10.   Bureau Gallery

Located in the lobby of an office block in Spinningfields, it’s easy to miss this spacious and stark modern gallery.