The Council and democracy Heritage and art

The Town Hall Collection

What is the Town Hall Collection?

It's a collection of over 3,000 items including sculpture, paintings, furniture, silverware, ceramics, glass, textiles and social history material.

The furniture, textiles, silver and ceramics that were produced for the opening of the building in 1877 were all designed by, or with the approval of, the building's architect, Alfred Waterhouse.  They were created to complement and enhance the architecture of the building, and their decorative details were developed to harmonise with the building. Together they convey a message about the Victorian ambitions and prominence of the city.

Sculpture collection

The civic sculpture collection is one of the most significant in the world.  It was largely assembled in the nineteenth century although it continues to grow with donations to commemorate significant moments or people. It reflects a time when the new political, religious, economic and cultural status of the city was directly and deliberately reflected in its public sculpture. 

Paintings and photographs

The painting and photograph collection is dominated by portraits of prominent councillors and noteworthy municipal figures: the works provide a visual history of the political life of Manchester. Their significance lies in the stories of the individual sitters and the impact they made on the history of the city. All of the paintings can be viewed online via the Art UK website.

We needed to take all of the paintings out of the building before any work could begin.

The Town Hall Collection - paintings

Open the Town Hall Paintings album in flickr for images and more information.

Civic gifts

The Town Hall has accumulated a wide-ranging collection of objects that have been presented to the city by visitors from all over the world, including a collection of gifts brought to Manchester by participating nations in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. This varied collection has the potential to illustrate the city’s global links and to explore the stories of Manchester’s diverse communities and connections.

Why is it important?

The importance of the Town Hall Collection is intrinsically linked to the significance, status and function of the building itself. It shows how important the City Council (originally known as The Corporation) has been in shaping Manchester as it has evolved from the world’s first industrial city to its current position as an international influencer.  The collection has local, regional, national and global significance.

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