Looking very traditional and slightly forbidding on the outside, with its classical portico leading into the tall neo-classical entrance hall with its Doric columns and two Rodin statues standing guard over the staircase, the Manchester Art Gallery inside is much larger and more expansive than you would expect, with a contemporary twist at its heart – modern steel and glass elevators, staircases and bridges, (plus another entrance) allowing light to cascade down through this relatively new addition.
The original building dates back to 1823, designed by Sir Charles Barry, and the Art Gallery in fact brings three buildings together, including the new connecting building opened in 2002 and designed by Hopkins Architects. It is however in need of a little TLC as there are some shattered glass panels at the top which really should be replaced.
The Gallery has a fine a varied collection and provides snippets of this with different themes, including Dutch paintings, the Pre-Raphaelites, L S Lowry and, surprisingly, Scottish linkages. Modern artists include David Hockey, Eduardo Paolozzi, Gilbert & George and Banksy. There is an extensive café and shop and several temporary exhibitions, the highlight of which is a stunning temporary exhibition on Nordic design, with modern design classics – furniture, fashion, glassware, stainless steel and lighting - contrasting well with the neoclassical interior around them. You may well have some of the work on show at home… I know that I do….