Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

Wit & Whimsy: Art in Manchester, England’s Cultural Hub

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After Lina and I returned to Hotel Gotham for our afternoon tea, we took a stroll around the neighborhood to work off all the scones and clotted cream we’d just consumed. Much of this UK city bears the resemblance of a former industrial town, sure, but still other parts have a certain Victorian charm to them. And the art in Manchester would turn out to be the most surprising part of our visit there.

Manchester architecture | A walking tour around England's second biggest metropolis

Exploring Manchester’s Albert Square

Not 10 minutes from the hotel, Albert Square is Manchester’s epicenter. Its Victorian Gothic buildings make it the perfect meeting place as it’s impossible not to find, but also the perfect jumping off point for exploring.

Manchester architecture | A walking tour around England's second biggest metropolis

Laid out in the mid-19th century, the square is home to the Town Hall, the Abbey National building, and several other prominent buildings, memorials and statues.

Manchester architecture | A walking tour around England's second biggest metropolis

Paying a visit to the Central Library in Manchester

It’s also just down the way from the Central Library, so we took a peek inside at the advice of some locals. While it’s not as impressive as John Rylands, it’s still worth a walk-through (and it’s free to visit, too).

The Central Library | An architecture walking tour around Manchester, England's second biggest metropolis

The Central Library | An architecture walking tour around Manchester, England's second biggest metropolis
The Central Library | An architecture walking tour around Manchester, England's second biggest metropolis

The Central Library | An architecture walking tour around Manchester, England's second biggest metropolis

The Central Library | An architecture walking tour around Manchester, England's second biggest metropolis

Taking a music tour of Manchester

After our self-guided architecture walk around midtown and Manchester’s center, I deposited Lina at the hotel while I set out on a tour of another kind. Craig Gill, a founding member and former drummer of Inspiral Carpets, was picking me up to lead me through the city’s musical landscape.

Manchester Music Tour | See the most prominent musical sites in town with Manchester Music Tours

Craig, owner of Manchester Music Tours, leads several group outings by bus each week, but also will put together customized itineraries for individuals based on their interests. As a former musician who has lived in Manchester much of his life, it seems he knows—or at least brushed elbows with—every fellow crooner and band member who hailed from the area like Noel Gallagher, Tony Wilson, Johnny Marr and Shaun Ryder. Oasis plays a big part in his tours, as do Morrissey/The Smiths, for whom he also has a dedicated tour every week. As someone who hails from Music City, it was interesting to see the behind-the-scenes of another town for which music plays such a huge part.

Manchester Music Tour | See the most prominent musical sites in town with Manchester Music Tours

Manchester Music Tour | See the most prominent musical sites in town with Manchester Music Tours
Manchester Music Tour | See the most prominent musical sites in town with Manchester Music Tours

Admittedly, I’m not a huge music history aficionado—I’m sure you figured as much given my unabashed love for Taylor Swift—however for someone that knows their stuff, particularly from the 1980s to the present, this is a must-do. And for those like me who simply want to see new neighborhoods of Manchester you might not find on your own, it’s still a great way to spend an afternoon.

Manchester Music Tour | See the most prominent musical sites in town with Manchester Music Tours

Dining at the Marble Arch

After my tour, I bid Lina farewell for the evening as I met up with a journalist from Bath and a couple of the gentlemen in tourism for dinner. They took us to Marble Arch, a place I would have never found on my own but one that had a very distinct British vibe to it.

Marble Arch Brewery | One of Manchester’s best gastropubs

While I could have easily eaten curry for every meal—when in Manchester, right?—I also didn’t want to miss out on the best of English pubs either.

Marble Arch Brewery | One of Manchester’s best gastropubs

A new obsession of mine is beer—bourbon was so 2013—and I was more than happy to eat at an establishment that brews its own brand. The only problem was deciding between the ginger, the chocolate stout and the earl grey IPA. The easy solution? I sampled a pint of them all.

Marble Arch Brewery | One of Manchester’s best gastropubs

Visiting the Whitworth Art Gallery

The next morning, I hopped a cab to the university area to meet up with Lina once more. It turns out that Manchester’s artsy side doesn’t end with the murals and indie shops of the Northern Quarter, nor does the Hotel Gotham have a moratorium on all things whimsical.

Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

The extensive Whitworth Art Gallery lives on the University of Manchester campus and reopened in early 2015 after a two-year renovation process. Now twice the size, the gallery boasts 55,000 works, installations from British sculptor like Cornelia Parker, and plenty of visiting exhibits and shows.
Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

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rt in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.
rt in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

Not to mention, it’s free to visit, as so many attractions in Manchester and Liverpool are. So if, like me, you’re one who likes to breeze through museums, you can do just that and not feel too guilty because you just dropped $30 on admission.

The Whitworth Gallery | Manchester, England

However, the very best part of the art gallery wasn’t visible from the front of the museum; rather, it was the garden tucked away behind the gallery.

Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.
Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.
Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

Movable art, you guys! So many pieces to explore, and while Lina and I didn’t really know the function for each one, we tried our hardest to figure it out.

The Whitworth Gallery | Manchester, England

The Whitworth Gallery | Manchester, England

The Whitworth Gallery | Manchester, England

And you know me: I couldn’t see a piece of art that’s just beckoning for play without climbing all over it. I may be 32 years young, but I’ll be clowning around until I’m 92, that you can be assured.

Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.
Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.
Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

Then I discovered the life-size hampster wheel, which providing a solid hour of entertainment—I could have spent days trying to crack the code.

Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

It also helped me to stick my handstand for the first time after a year of practicing and failing time and time again. What I’m saying is, I think SVV should build one in our backyard for my own yoga advancement, don’t you?

Art in Manchester | The Whitworth Gallery has undergone major work to extend and double the public space of the gallery into leafy Whitworth Park. The gallery reopened in February 2015 with a major exhibition from acclaimed British sculptor and installation artist, Cornelia Parker, as well as the very best of the Whitworth’s outstanding collection.

Indeed, the art in Manchester held a lot of surprises around every corner; the Whitworth Gallery was just one of its many gems. I’ll confess that I reached a point a few years ago where travel writing was feeling a bit stale, a bit too repetitive, too much monotony, but unexpected assignments like this one—and discovering new-to-me cities with so much to offer—have renewed my love for the craft once more.

The Whitworth Gallery | Manchester, England

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Art in Manchester: The UK's Cultural Hub

COMMENTS
  • November 17, 2015

    I definitely need to make it to Manchester (other than the airport) on my next trip to visit my cousins in nearby Chester. I really neglected both Manchester and Liverpool last time and they are firmly on my list for December. It’s going to be so cold though!

    • November 19, 2015

      The good news is that you have family there, so there will always be a next time! =)

  • November 18, 2015

    You’ve been so lucky weather-wise in Manchester! When I visited it was overcast and ready to rain. This can make a city look dark and glum. But even then, when I look at your pictures of the city centre I don’t recognize the city at all.. Did we visit the same Manchester? 🙂

    • November 19, 2015

      Funny enough, everyone told me “it was so beautiful until the day before you arrived!” ha. I was there the second week in October and I guess they’d had a balmy Indian summer up until that point. Still, I was just happy with sun and relatively mild conditions; I can take 55 degrees, particularly in England! =)

  • November 18, 2015

    How I love England. Every architecture from them is a masterpiece. You can really tell how creative are they when it comes to architecture. So beautiful to look at.

    • November 19, 2015

      I agree, Marie! On pretty days, there’s nothing better to do than wondering around town, snapping pictures of the buildings from every angle.

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