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High culture and tall chimneysArt institutions and urban society in Lancashire, 1780-1914$
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James Moore

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781784991470

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784991470.001.0001

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A problem of scale and leadership? Manchester’s municipal ambitions and the ‘failure’ of public spirit

A problem of scale and leadership? Manchester’s municipal ambitions and the ‘failure’ of public spirit

Chapter:
(p.190) 7 A problem of scale and leadership? Manchester’s municipal ambitions and the ‘failure’ of public spirit
Source:
High culture and tall chimneys
Author(s):

James Moore

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784991470.003.0007

The 1870s and 1880s saw the Manchester art world arguably reach its cultural zenith. The rise of the proto-Impressionist ‘Manchester school’, the municipalisation of the Royal Manchester Institution building and the plans for a new city gallery produced an art community and institutional infrastructure second to nowhere in England, except London. However such progress concealed a growing disagreement about the purpose of municipal art institutions. As attendance at exhibitions fell, critics questioned the ability of large galleries to engage the public and called for more community-based art initiatives. The crisis point was reached when proposals for a new city art gallery in Piccadilly Square fell foul of Conservative and Labour opposition. At a time of economic slump, had art become an expensive luxury?

Keywords:   municipalisation, exhibitions, institutions, partisanship, regeneration, modernism, Butterworth, Piccadilly, Manchester

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