Situated in the beautiful Green Flag-awarded gardens of Lister Park, Cartwright Hall Art Gallery displays Bradford’s public art collection and organises temporary exhibitions by regional, national and international artists. It opened in 1904 with a collection of Victorian and Edwardian works donated by the Yorkshire industrialist Samuel Lister. The building was designed by Sir John W Simpson and E..J Milner Allen, also responsible for the design of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The design of the building, known as 'Bradford Baroque', is a style of architecture typical of the burgeoning wealth of Bradford in the early 20th-century.
The majority of the collection consists of 19th and 20th-century British art by William Roberts and Robert Colquhoun. Collecting prints has been a priority since Cartwright Hall hosted the British International Print Biennial (1968-90), including a portfolio of 20 from the Cubitt Street Studio artists in 2000. Other recent acquisitions include a selection of contemporary South Asian Art, Islamic calligraphy, illustrated textiles in the phulkari style and items of Sikh art, including a portrait of Guru Nanak. The craft collection holds a number of contemporary British and international works notably the photogravures of Turner Prize-winner Cornelia Parker : Fox Talbot's Artcles of Glass and the woven The Burden by Esna Su which addresses the theme of migration, at the heart of Bradford's population.
The gallery programmes a variety of temporary exhibitions of historic, modern and contemporary work. All displays are greatly influenced by the focus on the educational use of the collection. Cartwright Hall was recently refurbished and in 2017 the David Hockney Gallery opened at Cartwright Hall designed to give an introduction to the life and art of Bradford-born artist David Hockney. It features Bradford’s unique collection of works from the 1950’s, as well as personal photographs lent by the artist. Certain elements of the gallery change every year as supplemented by loans from other collections.