Mr Smith's Dream – Manchester, England - Atlas Obscura

Mr Smith's Dream

A tiny, heartwarming piece of art hiding in plain sight. 


Built into the brickwork of the Manchester Craft & Design Centre, this tiny piece of art is easily missed. The off-the-beaten-path artwork is practically hiding in plain sight, only spotted by eagle-eyed walkers or those who already know where to look.

Mr Smith’s Dream is a true hidden gem and brings a smile to everyone who stumbles across it. Look at the piece, and you’ll see a miniature staircase spiraling out of sight. The soft glow of the installation’s backlight makes you wish you could shrink and enter the enticing secret world to which the stairs lead.

The artwork was inspired by the many pet shops that once filled Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It pays homage to a man named Mr. Smith, who once ran a pet shop in the area and often dreamt of his animals. It was designed by ceramicist Liz Scrine and commissioned by the Manchester City Council.

Recently, a small window has been added to the staircase. Three times a day, bells can be seen ringing, with their pealing sounding out into the street. 

The building Mr Smith’s Dream is set into is also worth checking out. The Manchester Craft & Design Centre, an old Victorian building that once served as the city’s sole retail first market, now houses two floors of modern art studios and exhibits.

Know Before You Go

The artwork is on the Copperas Street side of the building and is visible at any time. If you're approaching from Oak Street, you'll see it beneath the fourth window you pass. It is opposite the tone MCR salon.

The building itself is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and its cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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