Royal Manchester Institution

Charles Barry's Royal Manchester Institution is now Manchester Art Gallery

The Royal Manchester Institution (RMI) was an English learned society founded on 1 October 1823 at a public meeting held in the Exchange Room by Manchester merchants, local artists and others keen to dispel the image of Manchester as a city lacking in culture and taste.

The Institution was housed in a building in Mosley Street designed by Charles Barry in 1824. Construction of the building began in 1825, and was completed in 1835, at a cost of £30,000. A Grade I listed building, it is his only public building in the Greek neo-classical style.[1] The Institution held regular art exhibitions, collected works of fine art and promoted the arts generally from the 1820s until 1882, when the building and its collections were transferred under Act of Parliament to Manchester Corporation, becoming Manchester Art Gallery.

In the basement a laboratory was installed by Lyon Playfair who worked there briefly as Professor of Chemistry after he left Thomson's of Clitheroe.[2] He was succeeded by Frederick Crace Calvert who made phenol which was used by Joseph Lister as an antiseptic. [3]

The first school of design in Manchester was accommodated in the building from 1838. In the 1880s it moved to premises in Cavendish Street, Chorlton on Medlock, which it still occupies as part of the Manchester Metropolitan University.


Among the vice-presidents of the Institution was Joseph Jordan, a pioneer in provincial medical education, who served in that role in 1857.[4]


  1. City Art Gallery, English Heritage, retrieved 8 May 2012
  2. W. P. Doyle, Lyon Playfair (1818-1898), University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry, retrieved 16 May 2012
  3. Crellin, J. K., "Calvert, Frederick Crace- (1819–1873)" (Subscription or UK public library membership required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 16 May 2012
  4. Butler, Stella (2004), "Jordan, Joseph (1787–1873)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 29 April 2014 (subscription or UK public library membership required)

Further reading

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