Manchester Art Gallery is home to more than 25,000 works of fine and decorative art, spread over three floors.
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.
There are significant holdings of works by 'Manchester Impressionist' Adolphe Valette. 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 offers a changing programme of exhibitions and encompasses international contemporary art, historic works, decorative arts, craft and fashion.
In November 2014, the Museum ran a successful Art Happens crowdfunding campaign to commission a new contemporary work by artist Emily Allchurch. Inspired by Adolphe Valette's painting Albert Square Manchester 2010, the piece resonated with the city’s unique artistic past.