Manchester Art Gallery

Plan your visit

A guide for mental health workers

We know that coming to an art gallery or any unfamiliar space can be daunting for lots of people.

That’s why we’ve worked with healthcare professionals and service users to come up with some tips to help make your group visit enjoyable and as stress-free as possible.

Recent studies have proved that visiting an art gallery can have a positive impact on a person’s health and wellbeing.

We invite healthcare professionals and community leaders to use our art and spaces as a resource to help promote positive health and wellbeing.

Resource for recovery

Visiting an art gallery can enable people to connect with others, increase feelings of self-esteem and once again feel part of the community.

The experience can give a sense of achievement and autonomy, help develop confidence and spark curiosity.

Before your visit

What happens if I feel overwhelmed and want to leave?

Discuss with your group any concerns they may have about coming to an art gallery.

In the past, groups have asked questions such as; will there be lots of people? Will I be expected to say or do anything? What if I want to leave? Answer these as best you can. You know your group best.  If there is anything you’re unsure about, you can always give us a call.

Busy times

During the week we have visits from school groups so if you and your group are looking for a less busy time to visit it’s quieter after 3pm or on weekends and Thursday evenings.

Quiet room

We understand that all sorts of things can be triggers for challenging emotions. If you think someone in your group might need access to a quiet room please get in touch and we’ll do our best to reserve a private space for you.

Getting started

Why not pick a theme before your visit, something you’re interested in as a group; set each other the challenge to see how many artworks you can find that link to that theme. Previous groups have chosen themes like nature, opposites, Manchester and even the colour blue!

Exploring the gallery

There’s no rush, take your time.

Ask one of our friendly Visitor Services staff about what’s on. We often hold free lunchtime talks and workshops that you might want to take part in.

Getting around

It’s a large building with lots to see, so why not take the lift to the top floor and work your way down – it can be less tiring that way.

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

Looking at art

Get creative. Use your imagination. Be curious.

We encourage our visitors to talk openly and say what they think about art.

And talking about art is about starting a conversation. Just like any other.

So, ask each other questions. What do you think of it? What does it remind you of? Describe it one word. What does it tell us about the artist? Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer.

Take notice

Did you know, on average, people stand in front of art for around 15 seconds? Try looking at an artwork for 5 whole minutes and take your time noticing detail. You might be surprised!

Clore art studio

Our Clore art studio is a creative space for everyone to use right in the heart 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. Need help getting started? Just ask one of our friendly studio volunteers.

After your visit

Keep talking

Art often acts as a springboard for discussion giving people the opportunity to talk about issues that they may find difficult to bring up on their own.

We’re always here

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.

Call us

We want you to feel confident about visiting us with your group, so if there is anything you’re not sure about then get in touch.

Louise Thompson, Learning Manager: Health and wellbeing,
Tel: 0161 235 8844
Email: l.thompson1@manchester.gov.uk