Major rethinks in Manchester Art Gallery exhibits

By Annie Brewer

The Manchester Art Gallery is rethinking how to present their classical art, which was often created by privileged white men who benefitted from colonialism and imperialism.

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Being shut during lockdown for so long has appeared to offer some time to reflect on the exhibits and how they’ve been presented.

With museums and galleries finally being allowed to open-up again, now is a great time to explore a new perspective.

In a statement they said: “Over the coming years we will be working with a group of co-curators whose lives have been affected by migration to completely rethink the space.

“In the interim we need to create an environment which helps start conversations on the subject of migration and travel, that’s less heavy-Imperialist-Victoriana in its aesthetic.”

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In the new space, you can find feminist revisions on Victorian and Romantic art, but also abstract and contemporary art next to it.

It has completely moved away from the traditional grand rooms only displaying art from a specific time period.

Rather, they’re delving into what other lenses we could view this art from. It helps to think differently and perhaps more critically when there is such a wide range of different art in the same room.

Sculpture, photography, paper art, pottery and illustration all occupy the same space which is a radical way to present the exhibitions.

With exhibit focusing on immigration, there is a spotlight on celebrating all the different types of people that can live in Manchester. None of the pieces conformed to any one style or theme, it was an amalgamation of cultures.

To keep with the modern theming, they have replaced the information cards detailing the information around the piece with conversations with the curators.

This relaxed, more informal way makes art more accessible to everyone. It humanises the pieces.

This is the first time the gallery has done a refresh on the Victorian exhibits since 2002.

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