The Whithworth

The Whitworth is home to the largest public collection of Outsider Art in the UK, the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Collection, gifted in 2010. Consisting of over 1200 individual artworks by over 120 Outsider artists, it was collected by Monika Kinley and Victor Musgrave over a period of 30 years (1979-2010), these strikingly original artworks were produced by individuals belonging to no movement or school, who are self-taught and marginalised from the ‘mainstream’ art world. Kinley and Musgrave began collecting in 1979 after Musgrave co-curated the seminal exhibition of Outsider at the Hayward (the first of its kind in the UK). Works in the collection include a Henry Darger triptych, Aloïse'sPalais Rumine,Madge Gill ink drawings, Albert Louden pastels, and significant works by Pascal Verbena and Scottie Wilson.

At the Whitworth, we believe that it’s critical that now more than ever, museums actively collect the work of marginalised artists in order to embrace a wider understanding of culture and creativity outside of the current accepted hierarchies and canons. Museums must start moving in this direction to stay relevant to contemporary society and to open up a more inclusive space for dialogue around creativity and the many forms this can take. We would like the Whitworth to be custodians of a visual culture that reflects our society as a whole rather than a just a small fraction of it.

We are employing an integrative approach at the museum. As such, we are not interested in keeping artworks from the MKOAC in their separate rarefied category, as we believe this would be tantamount to further ghettoising these artists. Instead, we are seeking ways to integrate the collection taxonomically, physically in terms of storage, and in our display strategy (showing the works woven together with the rest of the collection in thematic displays). Not only does this subvert hierarchies and notions of insider versus outsider, but it also allows us to raise difficult and challenging questions – such as ‘How is creativity valued and judged?’, ‘What type of work is collected and shown in our museums?’ as well as ‘Who are the gatekeepers of this culture?’

A core aim for the organisation is exploring how we can create platforms for the marginalised artists in our communities, and we hope this will be the focus of a planned transnational partnership with other European organisations circa 2019-22 (funding pending).

Legal status:

Public Body

Permanent address:

Oxford Road

Manchester, UK

M15 6ER

Phone number:

Email address:


Year of foundation:


Number of permanent staff:

Full time: 36

Part time: 39

Type of organisation:

Art Gallery and Museum - part of the University of Manchester