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  • Explore Manchester’s prestigious collections of fine and decorative arts at Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery

  • Visit the nearby mansion houses of Tatton Park and Tabley Hall to view paintings by the likes of Canaletto and Turner

  • Explore The Lowry on Salford Quays, flanked by the Manchester Ship Canal

“Sarah is an inspired guide who greatly enriched the experience of all the sites we visited”

– ACE customer on a previous tour led by Sarah Burles

The city of Manchester awes both first-time and experienced visitors alike with the breadth of its cultural heritage, the prosperity of its industrial past and its world-class art collections. This new tour explores the artistic treasures to be found in Manchester’s art galleries, university collections and nearby country houses. 


In the 19th century, the city – once a market town – had become the commercial centre of a global textile industry. Inspired by John Ruskin, reformers proposed the creation of a free public art gallery, to enable Manchester’s citizens to be exposed to works of beauty as a respite from their industrial occupations and surroundings. 


The result was the Manchester Art Gallery, which opened in 1883 housed in buildings designed in the Greek Revival style by Sir Charles Barry, now linked by a modern extension designed by Hopkins Architects. The gallery is home to an extensive collection of fine and decorative arts and is particularly strong in works by the Pre-Raphaelites. 


The University of Manchester’s art gallery, the Whitworth, won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year in 2015 following a major redevelopment. It houses an important collection of works by modern artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ford Madox Brown, David Hockney, Van Gogh and Picasso, as well as paintings by Turner.


We look forward to a visit to the John Rylands Research Institute and Library, also part of the university, as well as a special tour of Chetham’s School Library, founded in 1653, which holds the accolade of being the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. 


We will extend our exploration outside the city into the Cheshire countryside with an excursion to Knutsford, to see two important country house collections. The Hall at Tatton Park contains art treasures by Canaletto, Poussin and Van Dyck, while the 18th century Palladian Tabley House boasts paintings by Turner in the rooms for which they were created.


Our tour concludes at Salford Quays, for a visit to The Lowry to see the permanent collection of paintings by the famous Salford artist. 


We will stay at the four-star Clayton Hotel Manchester City Centre, a smart modern hotel situated in the heart of the city, just a few minutes’ walk from Manchester Art Gallery.

This tour will be led by art history expert Sarah Burles, MA, an accredited Arts Society lecturer and experienced tour leader. Sarah studied History of Art at Cambridge and gained a Masters at University College London before developing a career in museum and gallery education, which included 12 years at the Fitzwilliam Museum. She runs art courses online and has a passion and enthusiasm for making museums and their collections accessible.

Tour Director Sarah Burles writes: "The galleries, libraries and historic houses of Manchester are testament to the industrialists and philanthropists who shaped them, and a witness to the rich cultural heritage of this vibrant city. Prepare to be amazed, surprised and delighted as we discover Manchester's artistic treasures, including the work of one of Britain's favourite artists, L S Lowry."

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