Manchester Art Gallery is best known for its collection of works by 19th century British artists, particularly the Pre-Raphaelites. However the fine art collections are not exclusively British and contain material from the 1400s to the present day. Altogether there are over 14,000 works, including 2,000 oil paintings and 350 sculptures, as well as drawings, watercolours, prints, posters, photographs and medals.
The nucleus of the fine art collection was transferred from the Royal Manchester Institution to the new City Art Gallery in 1882. From the outset there was a commitment to acquiring contemporary art, hence the strength of the Victorian and Edwardian collections.