Manchester Art Gallery > Collections

Manchester City Galleries houses a unique collection of industrial art, collected during the 1930s. Within this collection is a significant group of posters, acquired to illustrate the role of artists in design, including 200 posters commissioned by the British Government's Empire Marketing Board (EMB) between 1926 and 1933.

Created during the 1920s and '30s to promote trade and understanding between empire countries, the posters present a view of the British Empire that, from today's perspective, is often uncomfortable. Although visually stunning, the posters contain images that would today be considered offensive. As a product of their time, they raise difficult questions about the legacy of empire.

The EMB's main functions were to research the production, trade and use of goods throughout the British Empire and to promote the idea of 'Buying Empire'. Today the EMB is regarded as a rare example of peace time government propaganda.

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