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Central Library Manchester

Art and culture

Manchester is blessed with a thriving art and culture scene. It’s a breeding ground for independent spirits and a beacon for international performances and productions.

Covering everything from modern art to classic masterpieces, from the campaign for social justice to the history of football, the city has an impressive range of museums and galleries – and many are free, so you can keep going back for more. 

If you’re a theatre or opera buff, you can enjoy everything from rousing arias to musicals hot from the West End, as well as experimental theatre productions that challenge convention and delight the dramatic in you.

Museums

Galleries and libraries

  • Manchester Art Gallery – View important classic and contemporary art.
  • Whitworth Art Gallery – Another University gem, offering unique interior and outdoor artistic spaces and events.
  • John Rylands Library – One of the world's finest collections of rare books and manuscripts, owned by The University of Manchester.
  • Manchester Central Library – Beautifully refurbished and restored, this grade II-listed landmark offers 21st century library facilities in an awe-inspiring neoclassical setting.

You’ll also find many smaller permanent and pop-up galleries across the city.

Theatres

  • The Lowry – Theatre, exhibitions, comedy shows and family events galore.
  • Palace Theatre – Catch the latest shows on tour at this Edwardian venue.
  • Royal Exchange Theatre – Everything from Shakespearian classics to the latest premieres.
  • Contact – Innovative art, dance, comedy and drama on our University campus.
  • The Dancehouse – Theatre, comedy, cult films and club nights – everything from the underground to the unclassifiable.
  • Opera House Manchester – From musicals to hit plays, this grand old theatre brings it all to Manchester.
  • HOME – An arthouse cinema, art gallery and a performance space all on one site.

Comedy

As well as catching the biggest names on the comedy circuit at The Lowry and the Opera House, you can also see regular shows at: