From Europe’s most anticipated culture and arts venue to stirring stories of exile, identity and cultural memory, the North West’s 2023 exhibition schedule features a range of openings and ongoing projects which cater to every artistic inclination.

Here are some of the best.

Stephen Hawking at Work | The Science and Industry Museum | Thu 25 May - Jan 2024 | Free

Newly open and running throughout 2023, Stephen Hawking at Work offers a fascinating glimpse into the office of Britain’s most celebrated physicist. This intimate display provides insight into his life as a scientist, science communicator and public figure while living with motor neurone disease through authentic items from his original study including his PhD thesis, his wheelchair and the wager he signed when challenging his peers to the Black Hole Information Paradox bet, as well as some more unique objects including a jacket gifted to him by the creators of The Simpsons and a cast photo from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Rd, Manchester, M3 4FP
Golden Mummies of Egypt | Manchester Museum | Sat 18 Feb - Sun 31 Dec | FREE

Located in Manchester Museum‘s brand new exhibition hall, a space dedicated to hosting ambitious installations which examine past, present and future, Golden Mummies of Egypt explores expectations of a life after death during the relatively little-known ‘Graeco-Roman’ period of Egyptian history, with a fascinating interrogation of modern assumptions about the culture, beliefs and aesthetics of the ancient civilisation.

Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, M13 9PL, Tel: 0161 275 2648
Traces of Displacement | The Whitworth | Fri 7 Apr - Sun 7 Jan 2024 | FREE

Utilising The Whitworth Gallery’s extensive collection as a revelatory anthropological blueprint, Traces of Displacement gathers a fragmented yet compelling set of stories which collectively explore themes of persecution and resilience, alongside the lived experiences of the artists who, displaced in their homelands, have defiantly thrived in exile.

Artists from the collection include Raisa Kabir, Tibor Reich, Bashir Makhoul, Otti Berger, Cornelia Parker, Cecily Brown, Ana Maria Pacheco, Frank Auerbach, Max Ernst, Dusan Kusmic, William Holman Hunt, James Mcbey, Francesco Simetti, Frank Brangwyn, Edward Ardizzone, Edward Bawden and Theodore De Bry, Clare Leighton Hope, Ian Rawlinson, and Oskar Kokoschka amongst others.

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER, Tel: 0161 275 7450
Entomagical by Anna Collette Hunt | Manchester Craft and Design Centre | Fri 14 Apr - Sat 26 Aug | FREE

In celebration of the building’s 150th anniversary, acclaimed ceramic artist Anna Collette Hunt showcases a collection of ‘entomagical’ insects which reflect the hive mentality of both the centre and Manchester itself, while resonating with our shared ‘worker bee mindset’ and connecting with the building’s Victorian past.

The new MCDC cafe, BQ Bitesize, will also be offering a complimentary drink on arrival.

17 Oak St, Manchester, M4 5JD, Tel: 0161 832 4274
Yayoi Kusama: You, Me and the Balloons | Factory International | Fri 30 Jun - Mon 28 Aug | From £7.50

Part of its opening summer programme, Factory International – Manchester’s brand new creative hub and Europe’s most anticipated arts venue – hosts an installation by ‘one of the world’s most loved artists’, Yayoi Kusama, in its main warehouse space. Promising ‘her largest ever immersive environment’, You, Me and the Balloons features a labyrinth of polka-dot spheres and inflatable sculptures, including dolls over 33-feet tall, as part of a mesmeric exhibition conceived especially for Factory International’s soaring indoor spaces.

Factory International, Water St, Manchester M60 9EA
Operation Ouch! | The Science and Industry Museum | Fri 21 Jul - May 2024 | From £9

Opening Fri 21 Jul in the Special Exhibitions Gallery, the ‘world premiere blockbuster exhibition’ based on the CBBC series Operation Ouch! invites guests to dive headfirst into the digestive system for a remarkable journey through super-sized science. Featuring interactive experiences, a variety of astounding artefacts from the Science Museum Group’s collection and even appearances from world-renowned doctors, the exhibition explores a unique internal journey through the digestive system. Visitors will ‘travel like a poo’ in a discovery of food as fuel and a celebration of our funniest bodily functions and the ‘glorious grossness’ inside our bodies.

The Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Rd, Manchester, M3 4FP
Dinu Li: A Phantom's Vibe | esea contemporary | Sat 22 July - Sun 29 Oct | FREE

Formerly known as the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, esea contemporary hosts Dinu Li’s A Phantom’s Vibe, a solo exhibition featuring newly commissioned and existing works that combine music, sculptural assemblages video installation, autobiographical allegories and a tapestry of cultural influences to interrogate the complexities of colonial history, cultural memory, and hybrid identities. Visitors are transported from the night markets of Hong Kong to the blues parties of Hulme and Moss Side, via Jamaican recording studios owned by the descendants of Chinese coolies, as a profoundly significant reggae track plays as an embodiment of cultural symbiosis.

13 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU, Tel: 0161 832 7271
L.S. Lowry Exhibition | The Lowry | Permanent | FREE

Open to all and free to enter, The Lowry’s collection of the eponymous artist’s work comprises over 400 individual pieces, alongside an extensive archive of photographs, press cuttings and exhibition catalogues, as well as his most recognisable painting, Going To The Match, in a separate dedicated installation, having been saved at auction by The Lowry in October 2022.

Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ, Tel: 0343 208 6000
(Un)Defining Queer | The Whitworth | Fri 27 Jan 2023 - Sun 3 Dec 2023 | FREE

A first-of-its-kind exhibition at the Whitworth delves into the gallery’s collection to explore how we can use a queer lens to define what the term ‘queer’ means.

(Un)Defining Queer examines same-sex love, desire and gender fluidity across different cultures through a survey of artworks that seeks to redress historic omissions that have existed because of heteronormative museum practice.

Both collection works and loans make up the exhibition, which includes artists Ajamu X, Niki de Saint Phalle, General Idea, David Hockney, Maggi Hambling, Pearl Alcock, Keith Vaughan, Matthew Bamber, Sarah-Joy Ford, Wolfgang Tilmans, Chester Tenneson and Jez Dolan.

Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER, Tel: 0161 275 7450
Danny Boyle: Free Your Mind | Factory International | Fri 13 Oct - Sun 5 Nov | £10-£40

Created specially for the officially opening of Factory International, world-renowned Radcliffe-born director Danny Boyle presents Free Your Mind, a daring audiovisual dance odyssey featuring jaw-dropping visual effects, a cast of professional dancers and hundreds of Mancunian participants.  Conceived as an immersive reimagination of The Matrix, the bold and timely ‘statement of intent’ includes choreography by Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, music by Michael Asante, original work from playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz and stage sculptures by designer Es Devlin.

Factory International, Water St, Manchester M3 4JQ
Our Fragile Space | Jodrell Bank | Sat 17 Jun - Sun 17 Sep | Included with admission

A new exhibition that explores the impact of space debris has opened at Jodrell Bank.

Our Fragile Space is the brainchild of international photographer and creative director, Max Alexander, who specialises in science communication through visual storytelling.

The photography exhibition investigates how the growing number of satellites impacts optical and radio astronomy and the loss of the night sky for humanity.

Max also delves into the wider story of how space is intertwined with our everyday lives and society, examining how much of modern life is governed by this technology and the sustainability measures that are being taken to protect this fragile environment.

Jodrell Bank, Bomish Ln, Macclesfield SK11 9DW
Tony Husband 38 Years of Private Eye | The Edge | Thu 25 may - Sat 9 Sep | Free

Described by The Times as the ‘Keith Richards of cartooning’, renowned artist Tony Husband hosts his latest exhibition at The Edge Theatre & Arts Centre.

Work from Husband’s decades’ worth of contributions to Private Eye magazine will be on display in the foyer of the venue from Thu 25 May May – Sat 9 Sep,

Manchester Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9JG, United Kingdom
Sun 1 Jan - Sun 31 Dec
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Wed 12 Jul 2023