LS Lowry described himself as 'a simple man' so it would have come as a huge surprise to him to see The Lowry. Like a huge glass and steel ship rising out of the once derelict docks of Salford Quays, The Lowry opened in April 2000 as the Millennium Project for the Arts and has gone from strength to strength, recently announcing a £1 million private donation to secure plans for further development.
Development of what? Well, as the name suggests, The Lowry is home to the largest collection of paintings and drawings by one of our greatest artists. Its gallery spaces present a changing collection of his work, from the familiar to the more surprising – if you haven't been transfixed by a Lowry seascape, that alone is reason enough to visit. There's always work by other artists too, from Maggie Hambling to Spencer Tunick, and the recently introduced 'Performer as Curator' series has seen the likes of Alison Goldfrapp and Akram Khan invited to create an exhibition of their own, bringing the galleries closer to The Lowry's theatre spaces.
There are three of them, presenting a range of work dazzling in its variety. The Lyric theatre seats almost 2,000 people, its warm purple interior, enormous stage and superb sightlines making the likes of 'War Horse' and 'Wicked' a much more comfortable (and affordable) experience than you'd get in London. The Quays theatre offers a smaller, more intimate space and the Studio is the focus for new companies and community productions.
As was intended, The Lowry sparked a regeneration that now sees Imperial War Museum North and MediaCityUK amongst its neighbours. How it will spend its £1 million gift makes for an exciting prospect.