The building was originally built in 1837 as the Proprietary School from the designs of JA Hansom, the inventor of the Hansom Cab, and was presented to the town by the Literary and Philosophical Society in 1849. The Art Gallery houses the largest collection of German Expressionist art outside Germany, and European art dating from the 15th century to the present day, including works by Stanley Spencer, Hogarth, Lowry, Dicksee, William Frith and Kandinsky. The Decorative section with its ceramic collection illustrates many aspects of social history including the materials and techniques used. The Ancient Egypt gallery houses mummies, coffins and other treasures from dinosaurs and fossil collections

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