Touchstones Rochdale

Rochdale Arts & Heritage Service holds a richly varied collection of thousands of works of art and museum artefacts of regional and national significance.

The collection belongs to Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, but since 2007 has been cared for by Link4Life’s Arts & Heritage Service on behalf of the council.

The collection is primarily displayed at Touchstones Rochdale, formerly known as Rochdale Art Gallery. The collection is Arts Council England Accredited, (Accreditation number for Touchstones Rochdale is 1534). There are satellite cases showing some of the collection at Middleton Arena and the Heywood Sports Village. When not on display, the objects are stored and cared for at the Arts & Heritage Resource Centre.

Current exhibitions:

Todmorden-based artist Richard Wincer has created an ambitious new sculptural installation for Gallery One. Drawing on his interest in Wild West cabins and the occupation of new frontiers, and responding to the present-day plight of many people who have been forced to leave or lost their home, this site-specific work assumes the form of a makeshift dwelling constructed entirely from wooden canvas stretchers and panels.

The imagery on and within Shelter has been informed by the diverse collections held by Touchstones, and the personal experiences and creativity of the people attending a weekly soup kitchen at the old Rochdale Magistrates’ Court run by Rochdale Community Partnership.

Protest and Peterloo, 18 May – 2 November 2019 (Heritage Gallery)

In 1819 around 60,000 men, women and children from across the North West, marched peacefully into Manchester to call for parliamentary reforms to secure more rights for themselves. This ended in blood shed as the local magistrates sent in the cavalry to disperse the crowd. 700 people were injured and 18 were killed. This became known as The Peterloo Massacre.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary the museum will be displaying a range of objects from the collection with incredible stories linked to Peterloo, including the only surviving banner that was marched from Middleton by a group led by Sam Bamford. The exhibition will also include a project with Rochdale Borough’s Youth Parliament and Children’s Council and props from Mike Leigh’s new film ‘Peterloo’.

There will also be a programme of events and activities around the borough related to the exhibition.

Radicals and Rebellion (At Middleton Arena)

Linked with the commemoration of Peterloo this display looks back at Rochdale borough’s proud liberal heritage, celebrating the individuals and societies who have fought for social and political change over the last 200 years.

From local anti-slavery supporters, who starved during the Cotton Famine to fight for equality in America, to the Pioneers whose principles remain the foundations of the Cooperative movement today. The rebellious people of Rochdale borough have played an important role in pushing for change on a national, and even international, level.

Home, 13 July – 21 September 2019 (Gallery Four)

Since 2009, with the support of the Art Fund, the British Museum and the V&A have been assembling an important collection of contemporary photography focusing on the Middle East – the Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography.

In 2016 we were approached to curate an exhibition drawn from this collection. In recent years the Borough of Rochdale has become home to a large number of people seeking refuge from countries across the Middle East. In light of this we invited ‘Global Conversations’, a group of refugees who meet on a weekly basis at nearby St. Chad’s Church, to co-curate this exhibition with us.

Home presents the results of this unique collaboration and poses a range of critical questions about the collection and, more generally, how the Middle East is presented through the media.


Caption: Touchstones Rochdale: Photograph by David Dixon


Further information:
  • Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm
  • This is a free exhibition
  • Location:  Rochdale Art Gallery, Touchstones, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AQ
  • Getting there: the gallery is close to the town centre pay and display car parks (nearest: Rochdale Town Hall). It is approximately 2 minutes from Rochdale Bus Station served by all local bus routes and 10 minutes from Rochdale railway station
  • Contact 01706 924492. Email: