The Whitworth Art Gallery and Museum in Manchester was originally intended to be a museum of industrial art and design, partly with the aim of inspiring and improving textile design and production in Manchester. For this reason, Sir Charles Robinson's collection of textiles was purchased for the gallery in 1891. However, as wealthy local collectors began to present gifts of British watercolours and European prints, the emphasis of the collections gradually shifted towards fine art, rather than industrial design and crafts. The gift of a collection of historic wallpapers in 1967 to some extent redressed the overall balance of the collections. Nowadays, although some oil painting and sculpture is represented in the collection (particularly for the modern period), the Gallery sees itself primarily as a specialist centre for the study and display of works on paper and textiles.
Wallpapers. The collection of historic and modern wallpapers is one of the most significant. It includes 168 designs by William Morris, some of which are illustrated on the Whitworth website. Designs by Voysey for Sanderson and samples of originals are included in the collection. Designs by Walter Crane and other Arts and Crafts designers are also included in the collection.
Textiles. The collection of historic and modern textiles is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind outside London. It includes the work of William Morris and other Arts and Crafts designers including Voysey,Lindsay Butterfield, Harry Napper and the Silver Studios. There are 41 items designed by Voysey with carpets designed for Alexander Morton and Co represented. There are also 72 items designed for or manufactured for Liberty and Co.