Open Call | Research Residency and Exhibition at The Portico Library, Manchester

Application deadline: 13 May

The Portico Library has been central to Manchester’s cultural and intellectual life since its establishment in 1806 and is now open free to the public six days a week. Its collection of 25,000 rare books, archives and illustrations provides fascinating insights into the 18th and 19th centuries, and a diverse programme of events and exhibitions promotes contemporary responses to this history from established and emerging artists.

In March 2018 the library was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to catalogue its archive and promote its findings through an exhibition entitled ‘Sharing The Portico Library’s Hidden Heritage’. We are currently inviting applications and expressions of interest from artists and curators to collaborate on a research project to ensure high quality public engagement and emphasise the collection’s 21st-century context and relevance. The exhibition, launching in December 2018 and supported by The Zochonis Charitable Trust will feature significant discoveries and provide an informative visual presentation of the archiving process itself.

Who can apply

Artists, curators and researchers at all career levels are invited to apply. They encourage proposals from artists of all backgrounds and particularly welcome those with an enthusiasm for interpreting historical material. Applicants must demonstrate a previous record of successful similar projects, and provide examples of original, distinctive work. They aim to promote a wide variety of voices and perspectives and to enable a dynamic and thought-provoking programme for all the library’s visitors.

To apply, please provide a biography/statement and a selection of relevant images, plus details of previous projects.

What is provided

£500 initial contributor fee, with further funding anticipated (to be developed in collaboration with The Portico Library)
Private access to the special research collection and archive with professional staff support
Staffing for exhibition launch evening and associated events; invigilation for the duration of the exhibition; curatorial support
Design and printing of exhibition booklet
Publicity and promotion through The Portico Library quarterly magazine, website, social media and advertising

To apply for this opportunity, email The Portico Library’s Gallery & Exhibitions Organiser James Moss at with the subject line ‘Sharing The Portico Library’s Hidden Heritage’.

For more information see:

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