Manchester Art Gallery Manchester Art Gallery is best known for its important, representative collection of work by nineteenth-century British artists, particularly the Pre-Raphaelites. This is a reflection of its history: the nucleus of the collection came from the Royal Manchester Institution which showed a preference for acquiring contemporary art that continued when it became the City Art Gallery in 1883. The Bradford collector, Charles Rutherston, presented his modern art collection to the Gallery in 1925 and significant contemporary works were acquired during both World Wars, resulting in one of the most important war art collections outside London. Since 1945, the holdings of eighteenth century British art have been strengthened with the purchase of paintings by, amongst others, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and George Stubbs. In 1979, the European Old Masters collection was transformed by the Assheton Bennett bequest of almost a hundred paintings, mainly by seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish artists. Today the collection includes over 2,000 oil paintings, plus related studies and archival material, and there is a renewed focus on collecting contemporary art.