A Cultural Powerhouse – Manchester’s Best Museums & Galleries

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Manchester might not be first on the bucket list for culture vultures but we’re here to tell you it probably should be! With dozens of museums, galleries and exhibition spaces throughout the Greater Manchester area, there’s probably too many to choose from so we’ve picked out some of the best…

Science and Industry Museum

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Celebrating Manchester’s industrial heritage, innovation and achievements, the Science and Industry Museum boasts an extensive and diverse collection including steam engines, trains and aircraft as well as a great ‘hands-on‘ section.
One must-see highlight – the mighty Avro Shackleton in the Air & Space Hall

Whitworth Art Gallery

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This award-winning gallery is home to a nationally important collection of historic fine art, textiles, sculpture and modern art including works by Turner, Rosetti, Picasso, Hepworth and Van Gogh. The gallery is also home to one of the largest collections of Outsider Art in the country.
One must-see highlight – The Ancient of Days by William Blake

Imperial War Museum North

 

 
 
 
 
 
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An immersive experience with a powerful anti-war message, IWM North is a sobering and thought-provoking collection located in Salford Quays. Exhibits include tanks, aircraft, photos and personal correspondence.
One must-see highlight – the 360° Big Picture Show, broadcast hourly in the Main Exhibition Space

The John Rylands Library

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Occupying a spectacular Victorian neo-Gothic building on Deansgate, the John Rylands Library contains an impressive collection of medieval manuscripts, early printed books, artworks, maps and letters. The Historic Reading Room alone is worth the visit and may be familiar as it was used as a location for films including The Limehouse Golem and Darkest Hour.
One must-see highlight – St John’s fragment, regarded as the earliest part of any New Testament writing in existence

People’s History Museum

 

 
 
 
 
 
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As a hotbed of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester is the perfect location for a museum that charts the history of democracy, social justice and protest. The collection includes objects relating to the trade union movement, co-operatives, friendly societies and political parties.
One must-see highlight – the museum’s unique display of protest banners from the 1820s to the present day

Chetham’s Library

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Central Manchester’s oldest building (and the oldest public library in the English-speaking world) is certainly something of a hidden gem but it is home to some very significant books and objects. The library’s impressive collection includes a first edition of Newton’s Principia, books belonging to Tudor occultist John Dee and a Tyndale bible from 1534. There are limited entry times but guided tours are available to pre-book.
One must-see highlight – the alcove and desk where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels worked in 1845

Manchester Art Gallery

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This striking listed building is home to over 25,000 works of art including oil paintings, watercolours, sculptures, ceramics, antiquities and photographs. The gallery is particularly renowned for its Victorian and Edwardian-era paintings and boasts a world-class collection of pre-Raphaelites.
One must-see highlight – Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse

National Football Museum

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you think football isn’t art then you’ve never seen a Cruyff Turn, a Messi free kick or an Zidane first touch! The Football Museum is full of memorabilia, artwork and interactive exhibits relating to the beautiful game.
One must-see highlight – Diego Maradona’s shirt from the ‘Hand of God’ game in the 1986 World Cup

Feeling suitably inspired? Book your short break in Manchester here

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