Bristol Museums & Art Galleries
As one of the UK's leading seats of culture, Bristol is packed with a number of impressive museums and art galleries. Sometimes, it seems like there is one around every corner.
Starting from the heart of the city, the first venue to visit is the City Museum and Art Gallery on Queen’s Road, the ideal starting point for art discovery. Housed in an elegant Edwardian Baroque building, the gallery is an impressive architectural wonder and contains some of the best art exhibits and historical collections in Bristol. Its magnificent displays chart Bristol's history and its role in the larger world. The museum also houses an impressive collection of natural history, Egyptology, local glassware, archaeology, Chinese art and ceramics. The Natural History Gallery has impressive displays on various aquatic inhabitants. The Egyptology exhibit is also well-patronized, especially with the attraction of having real mummies. They also have the popular Assyrian Reliefs exhibit, which features a huge wall that is over 3,000 years old and contains impressive decorations.
The Bristol Industrial Museum on Princes Wharf is an excellent venue to unearth interesting titbits about the city's history, including Bristol's colourful transport history and its part in the slave trade. There's also an impressive collection of steam-powered vehicles in the harbour behind the museum, including boats and a steam railway. Note, though, that the Industrial Museum was temporarily closed for renovations in October 2006 to transform it into the Museum of Bristol.
The Georgian House on Great George Street is an authentic house dating back to those long-gone days and it allows visitors to step back in time. The house has its own dark history revolving around a tale of inequality and the travails of the slave Pero, in whose honour a nearby bridge is named. There are many original features still in the house and a year-round program of exhibits that are regularly changed and updated. There are also many educational activities for children to help them to better understand this turbulent period in the city's history. One sure sign that the house is the genuine article is the fact that it has been prominently featured in quite a few BBC period dramas.
The Kings Weston Roman Villa at Long Cross takes visitors back even further in time, to the third century AD when the villa was built. This excellent example of a Roman villa features its own bathing suite and living quarters as well as elegant mosaic flooring. It provides a clear idea of how the old Romans lived.
The Royal West of England Academy located at Clifton is renowned for its support for various artists from all over the world, numbering in the thousands since the academy first opened its doors in 1844. The Royal West of England Academy is one of only five such Royal Academies of Art.
The Ginger Gallery on Hotwell Road is a unique venue whose offerings are completely different from anything else the city has to offer. This contemporary gallery has a year-round series of exhibitions that can only be described as eclectic and includes exhibits on ceramics, jewellery and sculpture.
In stark contrast to the Ginger Gallery, the Saha Gallery on Waterloo Street offers visitors exactly what they would expect in a modern museum, such as exotic artworks and inspiring photographs. This fashionable venue is also located at Clifton's food emporium, which boasts of an excellent Mediterranean restaurant as well as a Spice Shop where guests can buy a wide array of different ingredients.
Living up to its name, the Off-Centre Art Gallery in Bedminster offers its own unique perspective in the world of art. This gallery focuses wholly on art on paper and the various ways that artist treat a humble piece of paper will amaze you. There are fine examples of paper art from all over the world, including Japan, China and India. Although paper has been used as an art form for ages, the displays here have a decidedly modern feel to them.
Travellers who appreciate the marvels of design will be well served at The Guild on Part Street. Founded in 1908, this independent gallery was the first to offer handcrafted artefacts for sale. The Guild still offers the same things today in the form of virtually thousands of fascinating and unusual gifts and accessories all boasting of impressive design. This is the place where you will find unique paintings and unusual sets of cutlery.
Visitors who love to travel around Bristol on foot will be amazed at the number of art galleries that can be found in the most unlikely places. There are several venues for art along the docks as well as among the cafes on Cheddar Gorge. The same can be said for venues such as The Grove, Severnshed, Harbourside and the Tobacco Factory BAr on Raleigh Road.