Whitworth Art Gallery

MUMA, Manchester, 2015


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  • Brise-soleil    
  • North elevation detail with pleated brickwork    
  • North elevation from Denmark Road    
  • Recovered central exhibition gallery    
  • Whitworth 2    
  • Whitworth landscape gallery    
  • Whitworth    
  • Whitworth - Section A-A    
  • Whitworth - existing basement plan    
  • Whitworth - basement plan    
  • Existing ground floor plan    
  • Whitworth - ground floor plan    
  • Whitworth - existing first floor plan    
  • Whitworth - first floor plan    
  • Envelope Section    
  • Axonometric drawing of west facade    

Transformation and extension of Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery

With a growing national and international profile, an expanding audience (up from 86,000 in 2006 to 139,000 in 2008), an ambitious exhibitions and educational programme and an expanding collection (the collections number more than 55,000 objects, all stored on site), Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery found it had a need to expand.

The client’s competition brief expressed its aim to make the internationally important collection of fine art, textiles and wallpaper accessible to a wider range of visitors, to make better use of the existing gallery spaces and to establish a relationship with the surrounding grounds and park.

It included the following quotation from a former director Margaret Pilkington following a visit to Oslo in 1932 - I have come to the conclusion that a good museum or gallery should be a place where people feel comfortable. If it stands in a garden or park, the visitors should be able to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors as a counterpoint to what is within.

These words struck a chord with MUMA and they underpin its design approach at the Whitworth. New visual connections to the park are created and celebrated.

Equally important was the opportunity to establish a new transparency – the intention being to break down the perceived psychological barriers created by both the formal late Victorian and Edwardian entrance and the blind, unarticulated rear of the existing building – this new transparency inviting further exploration.


  • Begun: Nov 2012
  • Completed: Feb 2015
  • Floor area: 6,000m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £15M
  • Procurement: Traditional - JCT Standard Form and Quantities
  • CO2 Emissions: 18.6kg/m2/year
  • Address: Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER, United Kingdom

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