Opening up the Whitworth’s 19th century grand staircases

17 10 2013

Opening up the Whitworth's 19th century grand staircases

Many visitors to the Whitworth Art Gallery may be unaware of the magnificent 19th century grand staircases hidden at either end of our Textile Gallery; some people may have peeked through the rather dismal 1970s grey doors that lead to back-of-house areas; a few enterprising individuals will have made it up the stairs, accompanied by Gallery staff and visited the Whitworth Study Rooms.

An exciting element of the refurbishment part of our building project is that both staircases will be opened up to the public, animating the Oxford Road side of the building and providing impressive routes to a large function room and lecture theatre ion the first floor (there will be more detail about this space in a future blog post). Taking a route down the stairs on the south side will lead visitors to much improved cloakroom facilities, including toilets, lockers, a disabled toilet, buggy park and family room. And if the stairs are a problem, then for the first time, a lift will operate between lower ground, ground and first floors at this end of the building.

Hanging over the stairwells, were four lovely art nouveau light fittings – sadly currently a bit dusty and paint splattered. However, these have recently been taken down so that they are safe during the forthcoming construction work in this area, which will include the demolition of some walls and the installation of the lift shaft and lift, and are now with conservation colleagues down at the Manchester Museum, where they will be cleaned and returned to their former glory. Some of the original glass shades are missing, so we are on the search for replacements – if none can be found we might have to commission some replicas to be made – watch this space for the unfolding story.






2 responses

4 11 2013
Return of a Grand Hall | Gallery in the Park

[…] Once refurbished, this huge room will serve as a lecture theatre and dedicated function room, providing the Gallery with wider venue hire options for weddings, conferences and banquets… and of course access to the Grand Hall will be via the Grand Stairs, see recent blog post:… […]

7 11 2013
Impressive views – latest from the Whitworth construction site | Gallery in the Park

[…] And staying with large scale – a great photo of the stairs in the new extension, compare this with the Grand staircases featured in a recent post:… […]

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