PREVIEW: The Whitworth Art Gallery’s Magnificent £15m Makeover

Whitworth Art Gallery re-opens on Valentine's Day...

The Whitworth Art Gallery first opened 25 years ago but has been closed for the last 16 months for a £15m revamp, revealing many of the long lost features of the building.

It’s been well worth it because The Whitworth has now doubled in size – thanks to two new glass wings which act as a bridge between the building and the park, including a ‘café in the trees’.

Director of Whitworth and Manchester City Galleries, Dr Maria Balshaw, said: “The project has been about unlocking the potential of The Whitworth’s building and reconnecting us to the park that we sit in.

Thewhitworth Manchester Park

“So, we’ve opened up the back of the building, you can see out over the park and if you’re standing in the park you can see straight in.”

The building’s historic layers have been peeled right back and the new extension opens up loads of space to show all 55,000 items in the gallery’s collection.

The previously narrow and dark galleries at the centre of the building are now flooded with light and open up to a spectacular piece by local artist Cornelia Parker, (OBE), who is one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists.

Thewhitworth Manchester Cornelia Parker

“This is the biggest show I’ve had in Britain and it’s got several key works made over the last 25 years” said Cornelia.

It’s not just local artists who are excited by the magnificent changes in the building – there are plenty of other artists from far and wide.

“For me it was a bit of an eye-opener today because I’ve come up here before and it was a building site,” said photographer, Johnnie Shand Kydd. “And now all the partitions have come down, it’s incredibly beautiful in a very intelligent way. I love how nature has been brought into the gallery and visa-versa.”

The Whitworth is a terrific mix of old and new with some notable collection of paintings, sculptures and showcases many other works by iconic artists such as by Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and J.W. Turner… and is well worth a visit.The building opens with ten new exhibitions on Valentine’s Day.


The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER

0161 275 7450



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