Manchester Art Gallery

Conservations and Patrons

restoration of Zephyr

Our Patrons support the work you see happening in the gallery – but also the things going on behind the scenes. Conservation is one of the most important parts of our work with our team restoring and preserving a selection of our 85,000 artworks every year, for immediate display at the Gallery, or to go out on loan around the world.   

Join as a Patron now to get a chance to see this work going on at our Conservation Studios at a very special Patrons’ visit in December. Patron membership starts at just £500 for a whole year (or £250 for Young Patrons under the age of 35), which is less than £1.40 per day!

As a Patron of Manchester Art Gallery, you will help us to conserve our collections; bringing outstanding artwork back to display and safeguarding highlights for future generations to enjoy.  

Much care is required to maintain the condition of artworks to a high standard, especially our most popular works that are on display the most. This includes Zephyr by op art pioneer Bridget Riley.  

Zephyr (1977) is an acrylic painting on canvas, frequently on open display in the Gallery, and has accumulated many years of surface dirt from the surrounding environment. The deposited layers are a combination of air pollutants and dust produce by the large numbers of visitors Manchester Art Gallery enjoys – it’s not that our visitors are especially dirty, it just builds up over time! This everyday surface dirt can become detrimental to the artwork if left unmonitored, or other environmental factors such as temperature and relative humidity not controlled.  

Due to the popularity of paintings such as Zephyr that are displayed either frequently or permanently, the opportunity to surface clean these paintings are rare. Regular dusting or housekeeping of the collections – both on display and in the stores – by collection care staff mitigates harm to the collection from this very everyday agent of degradation.   

Zephyr was recently transferred to the conservation studios where the treatment to remove surface dirt layers was carried out. It is still undergoing conversation to remove pencil marks, and our Patrons will be able to see it at the exclusive conservation studios visit in December. 

You can find out more about becoming a Patron here. 


Image credit: Bridget Riley, Zephyr, 1977

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