If there’s one thing that every resident of Manchester agrees on (student or not, born and bred Northerner or not), it’s that Manchester is a pretty cool place to live. Not just Northern Quarter cool, but in terms of the amount of experiences and opportunities on offer. I have said so many times before that there are endless opportunities for students in Manchester, but this is particularly prevalent for humanities students, who (despite getting stick sometimes for their less intense timetables) have almost endless opportunities to further their learning and develop their interests with the amazing cultural landmarks in Manchester. So here are my top five cultural spots around Manchester, and I would highly recommend you check them out! Whether you are a humanities student or not, these spots are all fantastic places to visit and you will get a lot out of visiting them.
The Manchester Museum
Situated literally in the heart of the University, the Manchester Museum boasts an impressive collection of dinosaurs, mummies and live animals, not to mention a lot of interesting specimens from the natural world and beautiful treasures from different cultures. Visiting the Manchester Museum should definitely be on your list of places to check out during Freshers Week, and there’s also a little coffee shop selling a vast range of sandwiches, salads, cakes and their infamous ‘protein bombs’.
International Anthony Burgess Foundation
A hidden gem on Cambridge Street (five minutes from Oxford Road and fifteen minutes from Piccadilly), the International Anthony Burgess Foundation is a library, archive and study centre which holds writer Anthony Burgess’ books, music and papers. The centre also has an awesome performance venue where you can watch live music, poetry readings and attend other suchlike events. I personally attend the centre for Literature Live events (organised by the Centre for New Writing) but the centre also boasts a bookshop and classy café. Definitely one of the underrated cultural spots in Manchester that is really worth checking out!
Whitworth Art Gallery
It’s impossible not to visit the Whitworth Art Gallery when you’re in Manchester, purely because it would be a crime not to! Like the Manchester Museum its free entry, and there really is so much to see and do here. The Whitworth is right on the Oxford Road before you get to the University (by Whitworth Park) and houses an unbelievable 55,000 artworks, including historic fine art, modern and contemporary art, textiles, wallpapers, sculptures and prints. The Whitworth is also a beautiful gallery in itself, having won numerous awards for architecture over its years. A fantastic place to spend a weekend afternoon or to take your family when they come up to visit.
John Ryland’s Library
Almost as iconic as chips and gravy or the Toast Rack (Google it), the John Ryland’s Library is one of those cultural spots in Manchester that everyone will tell you to visit when you move here. The John Ryland’s is one of only five National Research Libraries, and with more than 4 million printed books and manuscripts, over 41,000 electronic journals and 500,000 electronic books, as well as several hundred databases, the library is one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the country. A few weeks ago I visited the John Ryland’s with my creative writing class and it is such an inspiring place to work in and explore- at the minute there is a fascinating exhibit about magic, witches and devils. The library is also especially dedicated to helping and supporting students throughout their studies so if you’d ever like to check out their special collections, the staff are more than happy to help you.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Again, another underrated cultural spot, but as a massive Elizabeth Gaskell fan I was so excited to come to Manchester and experience visiting the author’s house itself. Gaskell was an author living in the 1800s, who just happened to be best friends with Charlotte Brontë, who visited the house numerous times in her lifetime (I’m sorry to say that she wasn’t the biggest fan of Manchester!) Gaskell’s house was recently renovated thanks to a £2.5m renovation and is now open to the public, situated on Plymouth Grove which is about a ten/fifteen minute walk from the University. There’s so much to do, from simply exploring the house and finding out about the lives of the Gaskell family to attending special events or simply browsing the bookshop or the café, Elizabeth Gaskell’s house is definitely worth visiting.