new exhibitions

The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
0161 275 7450

Wed-Sun 11-4

undergroundManchester Piccadilly / busthen 147, 18, 41, 42, 43


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Dec 14, 2019 - Jun 7, 2021
Founded in 1889 through Sir Joseph Whitworth’s legacy, the Whitworth was established to honour one of Britain’s greatest mechanical engineers. A proponent of standardisation, Sir Joseph revolutionised precision engineering through his development of interchangeable parts in machinery.
Standardisation is a theme that is woven throughout this exhibition, telling the history of the gallery and the development of its diverse and internationally significant collections. Alongside this, the exhibition demonstrates how the gallery has often deviated from standard models of practice, from its early collecting policies to its new vision; one that promotes the idea of the ‘Useful Museum’ and art as a tool for social change and education.

Jan 31, 2020 - Jan 1, 2021
Utopia is, at its essence, about creating a perfect world, yet in this way, it is always in opposition with the present.
In 1516 Lawyer and Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More published Utopia – a book that gave name and form to an idea that captured the human imagination – that of aspiring to an ideal future and better society.
More conceived of an island community – independent, insular and able to prescribe its own ways of living. Yet at the root of More's proposition for an ideal world is contradiction. The term utopia was taken from the Greek ou-topos meaning no place. A perfect nation can never be realised, because it is different for everybody – it is nowhere and yet everywhere.
This exhibition crosses genres, media and timeframes to provide a playful and provocative framework for probing how Britain's literary and visual culture has perpetuated an idea of a utopian society that fosters nostalgic yearnings for a seemingly lost past.
Within the exhibition, Whitworth Young Contemporaries have created a space that uses the Whitworth's collection to start a conversation on what utopian-thinking looks like for young people today.

Feb 14 - Jun 14, 2020
This exhibition brings together the work of six artists – Joe Beedles, James Desser, Amy Ellison, Frances Heap, Andrew Johnstone and John Powell-Jones, initially responding to The Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection (MKOAC), housed at the Whitworth. The MKOAC is the largest collection of 'Outsider Art' in a public gallery in the UK and features work by artists who are self-taught and have been historically marginalised from the art world. This year-long residency project was led by Venture Arts in collaboration with the Whitworth, and Castlefield Gallery. Elements of the work and new pieces by Blackpool artists, will go on display at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (7-21 March 2020).

Sep 16, 2020 - Feb 2, 2021
In this evolving exhibition, art that has recently been acquired by the Whitworth is placed in dialogue with selected works from the existing collection.
Our collection of drawings, prints, paintings and sculpture has historically favoured white male artists, reflecting the traditional narrative of Western art history. In our collecting today, we are trying to rectify the historic imbalance between white male artists and other artists who have been sidelined because they are female, non-white, non-Western, LGBTQ+ or marginalised due to mental health or physical disability.
In Exchanges, recent acquisitions are presented alongside archival documents, showing how what we collect today strives to reflect our society as a whole, rather than a small fraction of it.


© New Exhibitions of Contemporary Art Ltd