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The People's Galleries: Art Museums and Exhibitions in Britain 1800-1914

Wednesday 9th March 2016


Leeds Art Gallery - Statuary Gallery c1909

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The People's Galleries explores the history of British art museums from the early 19th century.The National Gallery and the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) in London may have been at the centre of this activity, but galleries in cities such as Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester were immensely popular and attracted enthusiastic audiences.

In his talk Giles Waterfield will trace the rise of art museums in Britain, focussing on the rise of municipal galleries. These regional museums represented a new type of institution - an art gallery for a working-class audience, appropriate for the rapidly expanding industrial cities and shaped by liberal ideals.

This was a relatively brief phenomenon - as the huge appeal of these galleries waned with the new century they adapted and became more conventional, but they have shaped the character of musems in Britain and their agenda of social inclusion is still relevant today.

Giles Waterfield is an independent curator and writer.

Please note that this talk will take place at the Leeds Library, Commercial Street (between the Co-operative Bank and Paperchase).