Manchester Art Gallery


All families are welcome at Manchester Art Gallery.

We offer playful activities for all ages. Our Clore Art Studio is an interactive family space developed by artists, which you can access every day. Borrow an explorer toolbelt to help you look and connect with our collection artworks. During the school holidays, we run award-winning artist-led workshops for families – keep an eye on the website for more details. We are dedicated to being accessible to all our family audiences. Please ask a member of staff if you need any assistance.

Mother and child at Open doors

Open doors

A creative workshop especially for autistic children

Since 2014 Manchester Art Gallery has been holding monthly autism friendly sessions on a Saturday morning aimed at children with autism and their families. Features include:

  • Galleries open at 9.15 so you can experience the gallery at a quieter, calmer time
  • Artist led workshops and activities
  • Staff trained in Autism Awareness
  • A quiet room available for moments that might be a bit difficult

Next sessions are 9:15-11:15 am on:

  • 19th Janaury
  • 16th February
  • 16th March
  • 18th May
  • 15th June

Please feel free to call Katy McCall on 0161 235 8869 if you have any questions or would like to find out more.

Manchester Museum also offer Autism Friendly Early Openings on the second Saturday of every month, 9.15-10.30am. Visit their website for more information.

In the Clore Art Studio

Clore Art Studio

An interactive space for everyone to play, experiment and enjoy.

Our Clore Art Studio has been transformed into a magnetic playground inspired by the children’s art room at the LYC Museum & Art Gallery in Cumbria. The LYC Museum was established by artist Li Yuan-chia, who believed that art was all about social interaction. We think this concept is really important so our Clore Art Studio has been designed to spark curiosity and encourage visitor participation. Come and be creative in the space!

  • Play the hexagonal table-tennis game
  • Explore colour, shape and pattern in the artworks from our collection
  • Watch the film made by artist-filmmaker Helen Petts of footage of the LYC Museum’s site
  • Draw imaginative patterns at the table
  • Use the magnetic shapes to create patterns and display your artwork

Keep your eye on our website for other free workshops for families, including our monthly workshop for autistic children; Open doors.

This space is a continuation of Speech Acts.


Family in the Clore Art Studio

Holiday Activities

Family sessions

During most school holidays we offer free artist led sessions for families. These sessions are suitable for all ages; we often work with 2 artists, one with an early years specialism and one who develops activities for older children.

Easter holiday programme

(Re) Action Lab 

Sessions run 1-3 pm, Monday to Thursday

April 8, 9, 10, 11 and 15, 16, 17, 18

During the Easter holidays we will be running sessions for families that explore perception and how easily our senses can be tricked. You’ll get to work with artists and use a range of materials including clay to do art and perception experiments.

Artist Anthony Hall will run a series of activities  that explore human perception and show how our brains understand our bodies.

The experiment involves making fake hands out of clay so families can make any type of hand, monster hands, blob hands and even animal paws to test this theory. If time permits, Anthony will also be experimenting with Virtual Reality (VR) googles to explore whole body perception with families.

For our younger visitors Frances Walker will be running free play activities linked to optical illusions in the Clore Art Studio.


Mother and toddler

Healthy Child drop in clinic


In partnership with Martenscroft Sure Start Centre and the Manchester Health Visiting Team, we offer a free Healthy Child drop in clinic for 0-5 year olds every Wednesday, 1.30 – 3pm.


Family friendly café

Our gallery café is great for families. Food is served throughout the day (hot dishes between 11am and 3pm). Children’s menus are available.

High chairs are available, just ask a member of our café staff.

Getting around

For buggies, there’s a ramp leading to the main entrance on Mosley Street. There are lifts to all floors or you can leave your buggy in the ground floor cloakroom.

For more information about physical access to Manchester Art Gallery see our access page.

Explorer toolbelts

Our family explorer toolbelts are back!
This activity pack will help you and your families make connections with the artworks, exhibitions and the building in a playful way.

Pick one up from the front desk and start your journey of discovery at Manchester Art Gallery.

Baby changing and toilets

There are baby change facilities on the ground floor in both men’s and women’s toilets next to the entrance hall. We also have accessible toilets in the ground floor atrium and on the first floor.