Our research culture


Graffiti on a wall
Art in the city

We have a research community distinctive for its range of youthful and experienced researchers, its close connections with artists and the museum world, and its strong interdisciplinary interests. Within Art History, colleagues work on areas such as: 

  • Modern and contemporary art in the global south;
  • Photography and film;
  • Romantic and Victorian painting; 
  • Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art. 

We have particular strengths in early modern, modern and contemporary art, in architectural history, and in such themes as art writing, collecting and collectors, sexuality and identity, surrealism, and art and science. 


The Whitworth Parkside Photo by Alan Williams
The Whitworth Parkside. Photo by Alan Williams.

We have long and close connections with the Centre for Museology and with the research interests of our museology colleagues.

Our interdisciplinary interests are manifested by our support for CIDRAL (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Arts and Languages).

We work closely with galleries and museums in the north-west, most notably The Whitworth, The Manchester Museum, and Manchester Art Gallery, but also, elsewhere, with Tate Modern, Tate Britain and many other galleries.

We encourage postdoctoral researchers to come and work in the department and have had notable success in helping them to win awards from the Leverhulme, the British Academy, the Mellon Centre, and the Henry Moore Institute.

Our research culture offers a stimulating and supportive environment in which PhD students can flourish. We encourage applicants across all the range of our specialist interests (including joint supervisions with colleagues from other disciplines).

Visiting Pilkington Professors

We inaugurated a series of Visiting Pilkington Professors of Art History in 2010 in order to attract outstanding practitioners of our discipline to Manchester to deliver lectures and workshops and to advise our research students. Since then our distinguished visitors have included Stephen Bann, Viktor Stoichita, Briony Fer, Martin Kemp, Griselda Pollock, Victor Stoichita, Horst Bredekamp, Malcolm Bull, Cornelia Parker and, in 2018-2019, Claire Bishop. Since 2020, we have hosted Craig Clunas, Ingrid Pollard, and a return visit from Professor Emerita Carol Mavor.

Whitworth Studies

Whitworth Studies, established in 2015, combines the Department of Art History and Cultural Practices The Whitworth Art Gallery and members of the community, within and beyond the University, to explore common research interests in curating, collections, visual arts practice and art history. Events include lectures, object-based seminars and curatorial dialogues. Upcoming Whitworth Studies events can be found on the Whitworth's website.