Manchester Art Gallery

Button World

A treasure trove where children were able to explore a kaleidoscope of thousands of buttons of all shapes, sizes, colours and materials.

Manchester Art Gallery
Friday 23 June 2006–Sunday 31 May 2009


From secret military devices, to storytelling pieces of art, buttons encapsulate a whole world of mystery for children to explore and uncover. As part of Button World, children were able to relive some of their most-loved fairytales with a display of buttons depicting scenes from favourite stories such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Aesop’s Fables. An array of activities for children and the young at heart were also available, including a pearly king and queen’s dressing up area, a giant Connect Four-style button game, a massive button fuzzy felt interactive and even a chance to design your very own button and have it displayed in the gallery. Gallery curator, Anthea Jarvis, comments,

The collection of over 100,000 buttons was bought from Gillian and Alan Meredith in 2004 and includes the most weird and wonderful buttons that you could ever imagine. We just wish we had the space to display all of them.

Collector, Gillian Meredith, continues, “My fascination with buttons started in 1968 after I re-discovered some buttons that my grandmother had given me as a child. I know from my own grandchildren that they get huge pleasure from collecting things like buttons, and many of us have fond memories of rifling though our mother’s button boxes. Button World will bring this sea of exploration to a whole new generation of children.”

Councillor Mark Hackett, Manchester City Council ‘s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said “The purchase of this fantastic collection of buttons has allowed Manchester Art Gallery to offer a magical new exhibition which will appeal to children and adults. Button World is a wonderful contribution to the Gallery’s extensive ‘fun for free’ programme for families. Manchester City Council is grateful for the support of Renaissance North West and the Heritage Lottery Fund in this very worthwhile project.”