- Free entry to exhibitions with National Art Pass.
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Manchester Art Gallery is home to more than 25,000 works of fine and decorative art, spread over three floors.
© Manchester City Galleries. Photo: Claire Wood
The museum's civic role is reflected in the collections. A seam of local craftsmanship and influence runs through the galleries, forming a dialogue with Continental works and those of national significance. Since being substantially extended in 2002 the museum occupies three buildings, including the Neoclassical Royal Manchester Institution, designed by Charles Barry in 1824.
The Fine Art collection includes sculpture, prints, watercolours and drawings, as well as around 2,000 oil paintings. Of particular interest are the 17th-century Dutch works and the English paintings " Gainsborough and Reynolds portraits and Constable and Turner landscapes. There is an outstanding collection of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite works, including Ford Madox Brown's iconic Work and Millais's Autumn Leaves. Paintings by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney form the centrepieces of the modern section, along with pre-war pieces by Paul Nash and Henry Moore.
The works of 'Manchester Impressionist' Adolphe Valette have a gallery to themselves. Valette studied and eventually taught at the Manchester School of Art during the early 20th century, numbering Lowry among his pupils.
The Craft and Design gallery is worth visiting for its architecture alone. Housed in a former Victorian theatre, the collection traces the development of design through textiles, toys and furniture spanning over 10 centuries. The Manchester gallery offers a thematic insight into the city's history as a hub of art and craftsmanship, guiding visitors through the city's artistic development, from its historic textile industry to contemporary art and design.
Art Funded works
A 14th-century crucifixion " thought to be by Duccio " was funded in 1985 and offers a vivid window into the Gospel narrative. Radiant with colour and activity, its attribution may be in question but not its quality.
George Stubbs's lively Cheetah and Stag with Two Indians was commissioned by the Governor-General of Madras, who had donated the cheetah to George III in 1764. The scene is tense with anticipation, the softly pastoral quality of the landscape adding to the exoticism of the foreground figures.
A series of regularly changing exhibitions reflect the broad scope of the Manchester Art Gallery, and provide a persuasive enticement to return visits. 2011 sees contrasting shows of Anish Kapoor, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and the ceramics of Lancastrian company Pilkingtons.
If you're in need of sustenance, there's a choice between the more formal restaurant " offering hot meals made from locally sourced products " and the Gallery Café, which offers the usual selection of light meals and snacks.