20th century broadcaster and social commentator Brian Redhead once said "Manchester ... is the capital, in every sense, of the North of England, where the modern world was born. The people know their geography is without equal. Their history is their response to it". Whilst Ian Brown of the Stone Roses has previously said that "Manchester has everything except a beach".
Often cited as the world's first industrialised city, with little pre-factory history to speak of, Manchester is the third most visited city in the United Kingdom after London and Edinburgh and is a major centre of the creative industries.
The Art Treasures of Great Britain was an exhibition of fine art held in Manchester from 5 May to 17 October 1857. It remains the largest art exhibition to be held in the UK, possibly in the world, with over 16,000 works on display. It attracted over 1.3 million visitors in the 142 days it was open, about four times the population of Manchester at that time, with many visiting on organised railway excursions. Its selection and display of artworks had a formative influence on the public art collections which were being established in the UK at the time, such as the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
There are several art galleries in Manchester, notably:
The municipally-owned Manchester Art Gallery on Mosley Street houses extensive displays of paintings by Italian and Flemish masters, as well as a notable collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, including works by Ford Madox Brown, Holman Hunt and Rossetti. A major Pre-Raphaelite work, The Manchester Murals, is a series of twelve paintings on the history of Manchester by Ford Madox Brown which were commissioned for the Great Hall of Manchester Town Hall in 1879. The Great Hall is open to the public, except during private functions.