Rethinking the Grand Tour

24 November 2022  –  31 December 2025

For 200 years the Grand Tour set the standard for western culture. In the 1700s and 1800s, it established forms of privileged travel and cultural tourism to Greece and Italy. Many western European artists took inspiration from classical antiquity. Ruins in idyllic landscapes, nymphs, and goddesses defined the classical fantasy as the pinnacle of taste.

Beneath the refinement of the Grand Tour is a story of empire and cultural appropriation. As the scope of European tourism extended to the Middle East and Asia, a colonial viewpoint prevailed. Artefacts were taken back home in private collections and were later acquired by museums. Manchester Art Gallery maintained this classical fantasy, purchasing Grand Tour artworks during the mid 1900s.

Two decades after this gallery was installed, the Grand Tour is being reassessed. Four contemporary artists have selected works from Manchester Art Gallery’s collection. They have responded to the legacy of the Grand Tour through the theme of migration, with a focus on empire and colonisation, trade, heritage, gendered experiences, and feelings aroused by the comfort of home.

Re-thinking the Grand Tour has been developed by a group of artists, a creative producer, University academics and gallery staff.

This is part of a wider project exploring Displacement Aesthetics initiated by the University of Manchester and the University of Melbourne, with Manchester Art Gallery, The Whitworth Art Gallery, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Further information
  • Opening times: open 10am–5pm, Wednesday–Sunday
  • Location Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
  • How to get there: By Metrolink – St Peter’s Square or Market Street stations are the nearest Metrolink stations-both are on the Altrincham and Eccles lines; By Bus – Nearest bus stops are in Piccadilly Gardens or on Princess Street; By Train – to Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road or Manchester Victoria stations – take the Metrolink from Victoria or Piccadilly (Altrincham or Eccles direction) to Market Street or St Peter’s Square; By Car – parking is available at the NCP car parks on Chepstow Street, Faulkner Street or Sackville Street – all are within five minutes of the gallery
  • Further information 0161 235 8888