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Manchester School of Art

The Manchester School of Art Collection comprises examples of fine and decorative art acquired by the Manchester Municipal School of Art and other founder institutions that would become the Faculty of Art and Design at MMU.

The School promoted the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, as a result of which the collection includes some of the finest examples of the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain at that time. Items in the collection are of outstanding quality and workmanship and include pieces such as the tapestry The Adoration of the Magi designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by Morris & Co. in 1895; silverware designed by C.R.Ashbee; and a fine collection of nineteenth century Whitefriars glass with designs by James Powell and George Walton.

Currently viewing:
Adoration of the Magi tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones (Morris & Co)

© MMU Faculty of Art and Design (photograph by Stephen Yates)

The most significant part of the collection includes ceramics, glass, metalwork, jewellery, textiles and wallpapers, representing the work of important theorists and makers, such as Walter Crane (Director of Design at the School from 1893 to 1898), William de Morgan and Ford Madox Brown. Firms and workshops such as the Guild of Handicraft, Doulton & Co., Jeffrey & Co., Morris & Co., Liberty & Co., the Whitefriars Glass Co. ( James Powell and Sons), W.A.S. Benson & Co. and the Pilkington's Art Pottery, sit alongside examples of contemporaneous international design such as Koloman Moser, Loetz, Tiffany, and the Newcomb College pottery of America.

The Faculty started life in 1838 as the School of Design in the basement of the Manchester Royal Institution on Mosley Street (now the site of Manchester Art Gallery). The School of Design became the School of Art in 1853 and moved to Cavendish Street in 1880, where the faculty remains to this day. Use of museum collections was integral to the curriculum in the late nineteenth century, and in 1898, the school (by now the Municipal School of Art) opened the Arts and Crafts Museum to display its collection. Over time as methods of teaching changed, the emphasis on object based instruction declined and the shape of the collection altered accordingly.

The collection has to grow and develop with acquisitions reflecting the changing attitudes to taste and teaching styles to the present day. A particular strength is the studio pottery collection, much of which was collected by the Didsbury College of Education in the 1970s. It includes work by Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. More recent acquisitions have strengthened the studio pottery and contemporary crafts collections, to include examples by Walter Keeler, Ewen Henderson and Takeshi Yasuda. The contemporary collection holds examples in a variety of media from glass and metalwork to wood and textiles, representing new work from across the globe. In 2002 the collection was transferred to the Library where it continues to be used as a resource for the study of the history and practice of art and design.

The Manchester School of Art collection has been supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Contact the Manchester School of Art Collection

Access to the collection is by appointment on a weekday basis, Monday - Friday 10.00 - 16.00

It is open for private research by staff, students and external visitors

Phone +44 (0)161 247 6107


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