We've finished our project to install a new display on the stairway and balcony in the gallery entrance hall. The project was in response to many requests from visitors to show works of art in the entrance space.
The display is called Myth, Dream and Reality: The Human Form 1700 – 1920 and it explores the various ways in which artists have represented the male and female body and human interaction over more than two centuries. It was inspired by the casts from the Parthenon frieze given by George IV specifically to decorate Manchester Art Gallery’s entrance hall.
The display is accompanied by an interactive digital interpretation system at ground level. This provides remote access to the art works on the stairs and balcony as well as additional information about them and about the themes behind the display. It also gives a virtual tour of the gallery entrance hall with information about its history, architecture and décor. This includes an audio description of the space for visually impaired visitors.
Visitors can also pick up an Unspoken trail leaflet to guide them on a journey around the new display. The trail explores body language and relationships depicted in art. It was produced by participants in Unspoken, a partnership project between Manchester Art Gallery and Start, which is part of Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust. Start enables people to use art to improve, protect and maintain mental well-being. Participants in the project also produced photographic self portraits and creative writing, some of which you can see on the interactive digital interpretation system.
The Balcony Project was made possible with generous funding from:
DCMS / Wolfson Foundation Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund
Garfield Weston Foundation
Manchester Art Gallery Trust
Paint supplied by Farrow & Ball, official paint sponsor of Manchester City Galleries
Images above show the Entrance as it is now and how it looked at other points in the gallery's history.