Decorative Art

Over 13,000 objects including ceramics, glass, enamels, furniture, metalwork, arms and armour, wallpapers, dolls houses and related items.

Manchester Art Gallery is home to an outstanding collection of decorative art, craft and design. From ancient Greek pottery to contemporary furniture, the collection includes a vast range of objects made by craftspeople and designers throughout the centuries.

Charles II commemorative slipware charger by Thomas Toft, about 1660Some twelve thousand objects are divided into different categories including ceramics, glass, metalwork, furniture, antiquities, Eastern collections, wallpapers and the unusually named Handicrafts of Bygone Times.  The oldest piece is an Egyptian canopic jar (c1100 BC) and the most recent a glass chair by Thomas Heatherwick (2004). 

 The ceramics and metalwork collections are particularly well known, including The Thomas Greg Collection of English Pottery and the Assheton-Bennett Collection of Early English Silver.  


Glass chair by Thomas HeatherwickOur modern design collection explores the relationship between individual creativity and design for mass production, and includes the innovative Industrial Art Collection, a group of everyday domestic design from the 1930s. 

In recent years, collecting has focused on contemporary furniture and lighting design and the Special Collections Scheme, as it is known, is now second to none.



Chairs in the gallery of craft and designObjects from the decorative art collection are displayed throughout the galleries and also form the subject of the Gallery of Craft & Design, housed in a former theatre on the top floor of Manchester Art Gallery.  Highlights include a Buddhist Bodhisattva figure, a marquetry cabinet designed by Bloomsbury artist Roger Fry and a one metre high ceramic pineapple by artist Kate Malone.

For more information search the collection or browse edited highlights.