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The Whitworth
Whitworth Gallery.JPG
Former name The Whitworth Institute and Park
Established 1889
Location Manchester, England
Founder Robert Darbishire
Owner University of Manchester

The Whitworth is an art gallery in Manchester, England, containing about 55,000 items in its collection. The gallery is located in Whitworth Park and is part of the University of Manchester.

In 2015, the Whitworth reopened after it was transformed by a £15 million capital redevelopment that doubled its exhibition spaces, restored period features and opened itself up to its surrounding park. The gallery received more than 440,000 visitors in its first year and was awarded the Art Fund's Museum of the Year prize in 2015.

In June 2017, Maria Balshaw stepped down as the director to take up her new role as the Director of Tate. Nick Merriman was acting Interim Director of the Whitworth

On 11 October 2018 it was announced that Alistair Hudson would be the new Director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth. Hudson, previously Director at MIMA, is a co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil.


The gallery was founded in 1889 by Robert Dukinfield Darbishire with a donation from Sir Joseph Whitworth, as The Whitworth Institute and Park. The first building was completed in 1908. In 1958 the gallery became part of the University of Manchester.

In October 1995 the mezzanine court in the centre of the building was opened. The new gallery, designed chiefly for the display of sculpture, won a RIBA regional award. In 2010 the art gallery received 172,000 visitors, making it one of Greater Manchester's ten most-visited tourist attractions.

In February 2015, the Whitworth reopened after a £15 million capital redevelopment and received over 440,000 visitors in its first reopening year. It was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize and won the Art Fund's Museum of the Year in 2015.

2003 theft

On Saturday 26 April 2003, three paintings — Van Gogh's The Fortification of Paris with Houses, Picasso's Poverty and Gauguin's Tahitian Landscape – were stolen from the gallery. They were later found rolled up in a nearby public toilet and were subsequently put back on display.


The Grade II listed gallery was built between 1895 and 1900 in a free Jacobean style to the designs of J.W. Beaumont. The gallery consisting two storeys and a basement is constructed of red brick with bands and dressings of matching terracotta and has green slate roofs. Its nine-bay main range has two towers and a large projecting semi-circular porch with a screen of paired stone Ionic columns and a stone frieze below a balustraded parapet.

Refurbishment and extension

Whitworth Gallery extension (16967657572)
The Whitworth Gallery extension

An architectural competition was launched by RIBA Competitions to design an extension in 2008 and funding was secured in February 2011. In September 2013 the gallery closed for refurbishment and extension works. The £15 million redevelopment was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the University of Manchester. The refurbishment works, undertaken by architects MUMA envisaged the gallery reopening to the public by summer 2014, but complications delayed the opening.

The development includes expanded gallery areas, a learning studio, study centre, an art garden and cafe. Developers have constructed a glass, stainless steel and brick extension consisting of two wings which extend into Whitworth Park from the back of the gallery building. The wings are connected by a glass promenade. The extension means the gallery is a third larger than previously.

The extension, which opened on 14 February 2015 doubles the gallery's public space. It will provide more space for displaying the 55,000 items in the gallery's collection and link the building to Whitworth Park.

The refurbishment and extension work resulted in the development winning a RIBA National Award in 2015 and subsequently being shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize. The Whitworth won the Art Fund's Museum of the Year award in 2015.


The Whitworth has notable collections of watercolours, sculptures, wallpapers and textiles. The gallery focuses on modern artists, and the art collections include works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ford Madox Brown, Eduardo Paolozzi, Francis Bacon, William Blake, David Hockney, L. S. Lowry, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, and a fine collection of works by J. M. W. Turner. One of its most famous works is the marble sculpture Genesis (1929–31) by Sir Jacob Epstein. It also houses the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection.

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