RESEARCH in the park

The Whitworth was founded in 1889 and offers an extensive and eclectic collection of art and design of international significance with over 55,000 works. A core aim is to promote the Whitworth as a gallery of international importance, as a hub offering a diverse range of culture, learning and leisure to visitors, students and scholars. 


In summer 2016 the Whitworth was to realise an important new sculpture by Anya Gallaccio in Whitworth Park and they wished to evaluate both the artistic and social outcomes of the commission. The commission aimed to place the Whitworth as a centre of excellence for the development of projects and events that explore the synergy between the arts and environment within the urban context. The aim was to build a better connection between the gallery, the park and the surrounding communities.

Their interest in Gallaccio’s work was led by her practice, particularly her exploration of the relationship between the natural and the architectural, and the qualities of decomposition, impermanence and transformation. The Whitworth had committed to developing a sculptural work that would take full advantage of their unique location, as a gallery in the park, surrounded by some of the most economically deprived communities nationally. 


The project collected and analysed both quantitative and qualitative data along with a summative evaluation. The research accounted for a) the Whitworth’s requirements in reporting to funders b) their commitment to exploring the environment / green spaces in the urban context; c) the diversity of the gallery’s audiences and d) the Whitworth’s public engagement programmes. 


The results of this study were included in a full evaluation report that the Whitworth presented in November 2016, shared widely through various national networks (e.g. Plus Tate Network), local and regional agencies. 

Project team 

Nicola Harding (MMU, Sociology) – Nicola is a lecturer and PhD candidate in Criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University specialising in the use of innovative qualitative methodology to research the everyday experiences of marginalised individuals and communities. 

Rachel Smith (Manchester, Hum., Social Anthropology)

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