Manchester’s Whitworth art gallery set to reopen after £15m redevelopment

    Cai Guo-Qiang, 'Unmanned Nature' 2008. Collecton of the artist. Photographer Seji Toyonaga, courtesy Hiroshima City Museum

    The Whitworth art gallery, part of The University of Manchester, will reopen its doors on 14 February following a £15 million transformation.

    The Whitworth Redevelopment. Artist's Impression of Exterior View
    The Whitworth Redevelopment. Artist’s Impression of Exterior View

    The 125-year-old Whitworth has been recreated as a 21st-century gallery with an elegant glass, stainless steel and brick extension featuring two wings extending from the existing 19th-century building. The redevelopment was conducted by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects) and will double public space and create state-of-the-art new facilities including expanded gallery spaces, a study centre, learning studio, and a collections centre.

    Leading with a major solo exhibition from one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Cornelia Parker, the opening programme will celebrate the Whitworth’s eclectic and extensive collections. Alongside Cornelia Parker, the opening programme will bring together the best historical and contemporary fine art, textiles and wallpaper, including, ‘Unmanned Nature’, a spectacular 45-metre long gunpowder installation by leading Chinese–born artist, Cai Guo-Qiang. ‘Unmanned Nature’ will launch the Whitworth’s new landscape gallery, which will provide exhibition space for the display of landscape works and large scale sculptures.

    Drawing on the Whitworth’s heritage as the first English gallery in a park, the new wings create an art garden between them and will be connected by a glass promenade gallery overlooking the surrounding landscape.

    This increased exhibition and public space will allow the Whitworth to show, share and care for its significant collection of over 55,000 historical and contemporary works. Visitors will also be able to access the reinstated Grand Hall on the first floor via Edwardian staircases returned to public use for the first time in over 50 years.


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