Skip to Content


Eric Chenaux

Wednesday 11 April 2018
Doors 7:30pm, Starts 8pm
Book here

Eric Chenaux is an adventurous guitarist, singer and composer based in Paris. Grey Lantern are pleased to present a rare chance to see live music at the beautiful The Portico Library.

Q&A with Melvin Burgess

Thursday 19 April 2018, 6:30pm
Book here

We host acclaimed YA author, Melvin Burgess, for a Q&A session that is supported by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY UK).

Art Songs by Female Composers

Saturday 21 April 2018, 2pm
Book here

Enjoy a programme of art song, featuring works by female composers, such as Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn. Performed by vocalists Natalie Mayer-Hutchings and Jessica Lawrence Hares.

In So Many Words: Aritsts' Talks

Saturday 5 May 2018, 3pm
Book here

Each of the artists presented in this exhibition works with a variety of methods and materials, and has explored the library's collection and archive to create the items on display. Join them to learn more about their processes and the wider context of these works.

Performance: So Many Voices

Tuesday 8 May 2018, 7pm
Book here

Responding to The Portico Library’s commitment to develop an accessible public programme, and our current exhibition In So Many Words: Roget's Thesaurus & the Power of Language, artists Jez Dolan and Rowland Hill have composed new live performance works with audio description and British Sign Language elements from 7pm on Tuesday 8th May. Each have worked with experienced collaborators including composer Michael Betteridge and members of Manchester Deaf Centre to compose ambitious new performances from their researches at The Portico Library, expanding their artworks beyond text and print into original works in sound and gesture.

Audio described exhibition and library tour

Tuesday 8th May 2018, 6pm
Book here

Anne Hornsby of Mind's Eye Description Services introduces The Portico Library's building and collection, and describes the current group exhibition In So Many Words. Following the tour, you'll be invited to stay on for the accompanying event 'So Many Voices' to enjoy two newly commissioned performances by the artists.

We will be taking this opportunity to learn how to build an accessible programme of future events and invite all our visitors to join us in this conversation. Please contact us or speak to a member of staff at the library if you would like to give feedback or get involved.


Saturday 12 May 2018, 13:30pm
Book here

The Portico Library’s historic collection offers a fascinating insight on how the prosperous society of 19th century Manchester viewed the wider world. Come along for a special guided introduction to Library’s holdings, with a particular focus on the Voyages and Travels section, which includes extensive literature on China and the Far East.

This event is part of a wider programme of activity related to Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art’s library and archive. These free events, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, offer the opportunity for new audiences to engage with collections and archives through the North West.

This event is free. Booking is required.

Beautiful Monsters: Exhibition Opening with Drag Performance

Thursday 17 May 2018
Preview 6 - 8pm
RSVP essential
Book here

A collective of seven international artists have come together for our upcoming exhibition 'Beautiful Monsters' inspired by The Portico's 16th century book by Conrad Gessner: Historiae Animalium sought to catalogue all the beasts of the earth, sea and sky and at time when facts could not be verified so easily, he used a little artistic license...

On the night of Manchester After Hours 2018, join us for this exhibition preview, when drag artist Lill, will perform a new act, commissioned specially for this event and inspired by the same 16th century text. Timings to be confirmed. Pay what you want.

Fat Out: Matana Roberts and Kelly Jayne Jones

Saturday 19 May 2018
Book here

Fat Out are proud to present a special debut collaboration between internationally renowned US composer, saxophonist, mixed-media practitioner, and sonic voyager Matana Roberts (perhaps best known for her acclaimed Coin Coin project, ongoing and unfolding via Constellation Records) and British sound artist/improviser Kelly Jayne Jones, have announced a new live collaboration, the first in a series of special live shows programmed by OUTLANDS, a new national experimental music network.

This show is in under the beautiful and historic roof of The Portico Library which has an intimate limited capacity of 100 so please get tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Peterloo from The Portico

Thursday 7 June 2018, 6:30pm
Book here

On the 16th of August 1819 Manchester was witness to the most dramatic political incident in British history - so says Ed Glinert of New Manchester Walks. 60,000 people met at St Peter's Field, near The Portico Library, to demonstrate for the right to vote and against the unjust laws of the period. The authorities panicked and sent in the military. At least a dozen people were killed and 600 injured in what became known as The Peterloo Massacre. Contemporary members of The Portico Library experienced the heightened atmosphere that day and later testified at the trial of the Yeomanry.

In the lead up to the 200 year anniversary in 2019, Ed Glinert offers an insight into the events on that historic day.

Ed Glinert is the author of Penguin's 'The Manchester Compendium', former staff writer at 'Private Eye', compiler of the forthcoming 'Manchester Encyclopaedia' and Tour Guide with New Manchester Walks.

Women of The Portico Library

Friday 8 June 2018, 2 - 5pm
Book here

Take part in a free event dedicated to Manchester’s Women, such as Margaret Ashton, who are specifically associated with The Portico Library and who celebrate Protest, Democracy and Freedom of Speech.

The Portico Library opened its doors in 1806 to male only members. Certain women were allowed to join after 1870, following the Married Women’s Property Act. Information about the featured female members will be provided to assist you in learning more about these outstanding women.

Spend an afternoon being tutored in creating a portrait or sketch and to write a short imaginary piece about what one of these women was like as a child/young person that made them into the person they became. We also plan to have a live model so that you learn how to interpret from real life as these women would have sat for portraits.

All abilities welcome.

Drawing Classes at The Portico

Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month
11:30am - 1:30pm
Please note these classes will not be running between January and March 2018

£10.00 Booking not required

Practice your drawing skills in one of Manchester's most inspirational environments. Advice and tuition available from the class leader, Greg Fenwick. Basic materials are provided and tea and coffee is included in the price. If you wish to bring your own materials please restrict these to pencils, chalks and charcoals.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations can be made by contacting us here. Please note that The Portico Library is happy to issue a refund up to 24 hours before the event takes place.

Join Our Mailing List

Email Format
* indicates required