Salford Museum and Art Gallery
- Wander down a reconstructed 1918 street at Lark Hill Place.
- Explore the collections of famous artworks and historic ceramic pieces.
- Head to the Victorian Gallery to view how art was displayed in past centuries.
- Enjoy a picnic in Peel Park and take in the tranquil surroundings.
First established in January 1850 as the first free public library in the UK, Salford Museum and Art Gallery has been a fixture in the Greater Manchester area for almost two centuries. Home to galleries that contain historically and culturally significant work, as well as changing exhibitions and, of course, a museum, this is one of our favourite museums in Manchester and the surrounding area. On your trip to the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, why not start by taking in the marvellous galleries? Here you'll find priceless collections, paintings and works of art from past centuries. For a taste of what an art gallery would have looked like in the Victorian times, head to the Victorian Gallery. Here, the works are all displayed on the walls in the same way they would have been in the Victorian days. This is quite a contrast to the popular 'White Cube' style of gallery exhibition we tend to use nowadays, in which paintings and other artworks are displayed in white spaces with plenty of room around them so as not to distract from the work itself. Instead, Victorian-style galleries took their cue from the French Salon, which displayed some of the most highly-acclaimed art at the time. At the Salon, artworks were closely packed together to display as much work as possible and fill the viewer's eye line with art. This is the style of display you'll see at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, along with sculptures, decorative art and oil paintings.
Another significant element of local history that you can experience in the North Gallery is a selection of Salford Museum and Art Gallery's Pilkington Ceramic collection. Back in the early 1900's, Pilkington's in Salford was a key supplier of pottery and tiles and became very well known for selling highly desirable ceramics for use in the home. The Pilkington Ceramic collection at Salford Museum and Art Gallery is the largest in the UK. Although the company closed in 2010, Salford Museum is now home to their archives, which include pattern books, documents and design notebooks. While there are often temporary art exhibitions available to see at the art gallery, the last permanent one is the By Hand Gallery. Here, you can see and buy work made by local designers, artists and craftsmen. With a collection that is refreshed every six months, there is always something new to see here, and it's a great way to support local creatives.
To experience the museum element of Salford Museum and Art Gallery, head to the mock street named 'Lark Hill Place', where you'll find a reconstructed street that will transport you back in time to the Victorian era. Initially constructed in 1957 and filled with cobbles and local shops, many of the storefronts are actually from real shops in the Salford area that were saved from demolition by the museum. Kids will have a great time exploring the nooks and crannies of Lark Hill Place, from peeking into the local chemist to discovering Victorian toys at Henry Radcliffe’s Toy Shop. Here, you can learn all about the ways people lived back then, with Mrs Brown's suffragette sash visible at the Artisan's Cottage, and the food at Mathew Tomlinson’s General Store being rationed to help with the war effort.
As well as exploring the museum and art gallery, there are lots of things available to do as a family. For kids, there are activity quiz sheets that they can have a go at completing on their way around. You'll also be able to find lots of child-friendly activities, including arts and crafts, going on in the school holidays. With so much to do for all the family, this might just become one of your new favourite free museums (and galleries).
If you start to get a little peckish on your trip to Salford Museum and Art Gallery, the café on the ground floor looks out over the beautiful Peel Park and is the perfect place to stop for some coffee and cake, afternoon tea, or some lunch. If you prefer to bring your own food, the park is a great place to go for a picnic, and there's even a play area for the kids to enjoy. And, once you've had your fill of the museum and art gallery, you're in the perfect spot to explore some more of Salford. Salford Quays is just an eight-minute drive away and is the home of The Lowry, one of the most famous galleries in Manchester, where you'll find the works of famous painter L.S. Lowry, as well as a theatre and café. From Salford Museum and Art Gallery, it's also only a 15-minute drive to the Trafford Centre, where there are more places to eat, as well as lots of shops.
If you had a great day out at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, why not check out some Tudor history at Orsdall Hall nearby? Or, for more contemporary history, why not head to the National Football Museum - perfect for football fanatics and families alike.
What to know before you go
- Salford Museum opening times are from 11:30am-4pm every day except Mondays.
- There are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities available on site, as well as ramps and lifts for easy wheelchair or buggy access. There are three parking spots available for Blue Badge holders outside the building.
- There is built-in Wi-Fi in the café area.
- If heading there by car, it's easy to get there via the A6. Salford Museum and Art Gallery parking is limited, and there is a parking charge. There are local car parks nearby, including those run by Salford University.
- The nearest train station is Salford Crescent, which is a short walk away. From here there are connections to Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly.
- The nearest bus stops are at Salford Crescent and Salford University, just a short walk away.
- If travelling by bike, there are places to lock your bike next to the building.