The Walker Art Gallery was designed by local architects Cornelius Sherlock and H.H. Vale it opened in 1877, it is named for its founding benefactor, Sir Andrew Barclay Walker (1824-1893), a former mayor of Liverpool and wealthy brewer born in Ayrshire who expanded the family business to England and moved to live in Gateacre. In 1986, the gallery achieved national status, as part of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside.
The Walker Art Gallery is located on William Brown Street (the only street in the UK to consist of nothing other than Museums, Galleries and Libraries) in a neo-Classical building. It houses a collection including Italian and Netherlandish paintings from 1350–1550, European art from 1550–1900 including works by Rembrandt, Poussin and Degas, 18th and 19th century British art, including a major collection of Victorian painting and many Pre-Raphaelite works, a wide collection of prints, drawings and watercolours, 20th century works by artists such as Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Gilbert and George and a major sculpture collection. The Gallery holds the John Moores Painting Prize every second year, with a regular programme of temporary exhibitions which has recently included Rossetti, Holbein's Henry VIII and Heath Robinson. In 2004, it staged The Stuckists Punk Victorian, the first national museum exhibition of the Stuckist art movement. The Gallery also takes part in the Liverpool Biennial.
The neighbouring area includes the William Brown Library, World Museum Liverpool, St. George's Hall, Wellington's Column, Lime Street Station and the entrance to the Queensway Tunnel. The other major art gallery in Liverpool is Tate Liverpool, at the Albert Dock, which houses modern art.