It's very easy to walk past many of Manchester’s public monuments without ever spending time thinking about who or what they’re about and why they’re there. This guide has been produced as part of a citywide project to research and document all of Manchester’s public art. Find out more about the city’s rich history and lively present through the monuments on our streets and in our squares and parks.
Find out more about works in the city centre by clicking on the placemarkers on the Google map below.
Public art War memorials
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As in other major cities, Manchester has a number of impressive statues depicting important figures in the world of politics. Some of these figures are predictable, others surprising and, despite their dated outfits, their ideas and principles were very modern. They worked against racial discrimination, poverty and child-labour, and for equality, education and free trade - causes that are still dear to many Mancunians.
Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Abraham Lincoln, Cobden, Peel, Bright, Heywood, Gladstone, Wellington
As Manchester emerged as the world’s first industrial city and the Victorian University of Manchester was founded more great minds sprang from, and were drawn to the city. Scientific discoveries that have shaped our understanding of the physical world came from Manchester. As the city leading the world into the future, there were also those who took this pioneering spirit into the development of new technologies and the achievement of feats never before attempted.
Manchester is the world’s first Nuclear Free city, declared by the Council in November 1980. A number of the city’s public monuments celebrate peace and promote a nuclear free future, as well as commemorating the victims of nuclear attacks and testing through history.
Messenger of Peace, Sheep, Doves of Peace, Life Cycle
Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002, once again launching the city onto the world stage. The City of Manchester Stadium, built for the Games, is host to two major works of Public Art. Another world famous product of Manchester is the Halle Orchestra. The orchestra was once housed in the Free Trade Hall, which was the site of some key historical events and has some interesting architectural sculpture. The new home of the Halle is the spectacular Bridgewater Hall, which serves as a backdrop to some more of Manchester’s newer commissions.
The Northern Quarter is one of the most fascinating and odd centres of Public Art in Manchester. Look out for ceramic birds perched on several of the buildings, a mosaic representing the historic activities of the area, an over-sized dustpan and brush, poetry on the pavements and a strange musical instrument growing out of the side of a building.
New Broom, Big Horn, Birds
Public Art in Manchester isn’t just about people who once lived in Manchester, it's also about the people who live here now. There are several pieces of work that have been created by artists in collaboration with local residents, or with specific reference to an area.
Journey, Chinese Arch