The Isle of Man’s National Art Gallery has officially reopened at the Manx Museum. The redisplay features a mixture of historic and contemporary pieces by Manx artists or artists inspired by the Isle of Man and its people. The gallery includes a vibrant new colour scheme, over 130 artworks, creative story telling interpretation, and a section dedicated to how the collection is cared for.
For over 100 years Manx National Heritage has been collecting art for the people of the Isle of Man. The collection is varied and eclectic, including everything from the earliest-known views of the Isle of Man and engaging portraits of Manx society figures, to an internationally celebrated internment art collection. It includes works by leading Manx artists John Miller Nicholson, Archibald Knox, Bryan Kneale, Kevin Atherton and Michael Sandle; and Manx related pieces by George Romney, Anthony Van Dyck, John Opie, Samuel Walters and Alan Millner. Alongside fine art, sit naïve pieces and folk art, together with sketchbooks by amateur artists.
Katie King, MNH Curator: Art and Social History, explains a little more about the idea behind the ambitious redesign of the National Art Gallery:
“We have around 6,000 pieces in the art collection and it has been a real pleasure delving deeper to select pieces for the rehang. We have been working hard behind the scenes on this project for almost 18 months, trying to tackle head-on some of the issues associated with caring for an historic collection.
In the past significant artworks were accepted into the collection in poor condition, meaning they are difficult to display without prohibitively expensive conservation treatment. Many other pieces are unframed or are extremely light sensitive, or in some cases were never meant to be viewed in a gallery setting. We really wanted to show a high proportion of these artworks, as a number had never been seen in public before. Thanks to the financial support of the Friends of Manx National Heritage our ambition was realised, as many artworks have undergone conservation treatment, cleaning and reframing to prepare them for display.
The National Art Gallery has been designed to take visitors on a journey into our art collection, with stories behind the artworks or their artists told along the way. We have included an area dedicated to how we care for the collections, and have included some pieces that are in poor condition but are salvageable through highly specialist conservation work. We wanted to explore with our visitors the reality of caring for and exhibiting an historic art collection. We have also created a dark room within the gallery, which will enable visitors to see some artworks that are too light sensitive to be displayed in a typical gallery setting”.
Manx National Heritage would like to thank the Friends of Manx National Heritage who generously funded the ambitious conservation and reframing project, and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company who assisted with the transportation of artworks needing conservation to and from the UK.
The Manx Museum is open daily, 9:30am – 4:30pm and is free to enter. Donations are welcome. To explore all the artworks on display in the National Art Gallery please visit:
To buy a print from the National Art Collections please visit:
Manx National Heritage Conservator Chris Weeks, Curator for Art and Social History Katie King, His Excellency Sir John Lorimer, Lady Lorimer and MNH Chairman Jonathan Hall.
Lynsey Clague BA (Hons) MCIPR
Communications Manager – Manx National Heritage
T: 01624 648032
Manx National Heritage, Eiraght Ashoonagh Vannin
Manx Museum, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 3LY
Isle of Man Registered Charity No 603