The Walker Art Gallery’s collection dates from 1819 when the Liverpool Royal Institution acquired 37 paintings from the collection of William Roscoe, who had to sell his collection following the failure of his banking business, though it was saved from being broken up by his friends and associates.
In 1843, the Royal Institution’s collection was displayed in a purpose-built gallery next to the Institution’s main premises. In 1850 negotiations by an association of citizens to take over the Institution’s collection, for display in a proposed art gallery, library and museum, came to nothing.
The collection grew over the following decades: in 1851 Liverpool Town Council bought Liverpool Academy’s diploma collection and further works were acquired from the Liverpool Society for the Fine Arts, founded in 1858. The competition between the Academy and Society eventually led to both collapsing.
William Brown Library and Museum opened in 1860, named after a Liverpool merchant whose generosity enabled the Town Council to act upon an 1852 Act of Parliament which allowed the establishment of a public library, museum and art gallery, and in 1871 the council organised the first Liverpool Autumn Exhibition, held at the new library and museum.
The success of the exhibition enabled the Library, Museum and Arts Committee to purchase works for the council’s permanent collection, buying around 150 works between 1871 and 1910.
Audio guides are available from the welcome desk for £2.50. There is a staffed cloakroom on the ground floor where visitors can also leave prams. Large bags and umbrellas are not permitted on the gallery. The Shop is on the ground floor and has a selection of jewellery, postcards, prints, books and gifts on sale.The Cafe can be found on the ground floor.Wifi there is free wifi in the cafe. You can take a picnic to St John’s Gardens, which are opposite the Walker.We do not have a prayer room.We sometimes loan objects to other galleries or remove them for conservation. If you are visiting to see a particular work we suggest you contact us in advance to ensure it is on display. Call the information desk on 0151 478 4199.