Manchester Art Gallery

Self guided visits

We welcome self guided visits led by ESOL tutors and are happy to support in whatever way we can.  Visiting the gallery with ESOL learners is a great way to have a break from classroom learning and engage learners with our world class exhibitions and collections.

Information for ESOL tutors

Plan your visit

Click here to find out all you need to know about getting here, access and facilities.

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from you if you are planning to visit the gallery independently with your ESOL learners.  We can advise you about what’s on and which artworks will enable your students to have effective conversations in English.  We can also let you know if we have school groups and other events booked in the gallery spaces.

Please contact Ruth Edson to talk more about your visit.

Tel: 0161 2358877
Email: r.edson@manchester.gov.uk

Free 20 minute welcome session

A member of our adult learning staff team may be able to come and start your self guided tour with a free 20 minute gallery welcome.  This includes a very brief history of the gallery and an ESOL introduction to one artwork.  Please note, this is only possible if a member of staff is free when you visit but we will try our best to accommodate you.

Before you visit

You may find it helpful to visit on your own before you come with your group.  Choose a theme which you links to two or three artworks on display and is relevant to work you have done in the classroom.  There are many themes that can be used in ESOL sessions.  Examples of a few successful ones are food and drink, gardens, the sea, Manchester and travel.  You may want to do some preparation work with your students prior to the visit by looking at images and talking about art in the classroom.

Exploring the gallery

Let our visitor services staff know you are here and feel free to chat to them about what’s on.

Drop off your bag and coat in one of our secure lockers found in the entrance hall and encourage learners to do this too.

Feel free to use our folding stools that are available in the gallery atrium.  This really helps people feel comfortable and relaxed when looking at and talking about an artwork.

Spend a little bit of time showing people where the toilets, shop and cafe are at the beginning of your visit.  Encourage people to turn their phones to silent and explain that they shouldn’t touch artworks unless otherwise stated.  You can take photos unless told otherwise.

Explore the architecture. The gallery is made up of C19th and C21st architecture. Can your learners spot where the old meets new? Which do they prefer?

It’s a large building with lots to see, so it maybe hard to do the whole gallery in one visit.  Perhaps choose two or three artworks in different parts of the gallery so people get a feel for the whole building.

Looking at art

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert.  Use your ESOL skills and the art as a tool for getting people talking.

It’s simply about starting a conversation linked to the art.

We encourage visitors to talk openly and say what they think about art.  There is no right or wrong.  It’s a great way to share opinions about art and issues which effect us all.

Encourage your learners to look closely at two or three artworks and encourage them to identify and describe what they can see.  Try to get the group to sit in a semi circle so they have a clear view and everyone can hear.  Prepare questions to encourage people to talk and perhaps get learners to ask each other questions.  Allow the learners to look around gallery spaces independently and choose an artwork which resonates with them.

The Clore art studio on the first floor is a creative space for everyone to use right in the centre of our building. There is no right or wrong way to interact with the space, materials or people. It is there for all our visitors to explore, play and enjoy and can be a great resource for ESOL learners.

Towards the end of your visit, ask learners to compare different artworks and discuss which ones they liked or disliked and why.

After your visit

Let your learners know about the free English corner sessions at Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum and the Whitworth.  Encourage them to come independently now they have visited as a group.

You may want to continue exploring the theme and other images of artworks back in the classroom.

Don’t forget, there’s lots to discover at Manchester Art Gallery. You don’t have to see everything in one visit. Come back and explore a different part of the gallery together.