Photo by Miriam Gooch, courtesy Natural History Consortium

Museums and Heritage

From ancient artefacts to flight explorations and outer space, all corners of history are explored in our colourful museums

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With over 40 museums and heritage centres across Bristol, Bath and beyond you are spoilt for choice.

Each museum gives an insight into the industries and innovations that have shaped the region and its people.

World-class wonders

Bath’s must-do is the Roman Baths: the remarkably preserved remains of a Roman Empire spa, built around the city’s steamy thermal springs and, quite rightly, one of the UK’s most visited attractions. In the Georgian splendour of the Grand Pump Rooms there’s still a chance to ‘take the waters’.

Move on to the Industrial Revolution and marvel at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner, an iron steamship built in Bristol in 1843 in the same dock that she now rests in. A companion museum, Being Brunel, explores the life and work of the brilliant Victorian engineer who created ‘the ship that changed history’.

Fast forward to the 1970s and the age of the supersonic airliner. In the city where she was built, Concorde Alpha Foxtrot is the centre piece of Aerospace Bristol, an engaging museum dedicated to the region’s aviation history.

Collected memories

On Bristol’s Harbourside, the M Shed brings together a quirky collection of objects, memoirs, art and archives to tell the story of the city and its people. Outside, on the waterfront, its ‘working exhibits’ include vintage boats, cranes and a steam railway.

The eclectic Bristol Museum & Art Gallery displays a diverse collection of treasures ranging from prehistoric scelidosaurs (the best-preserved dinosaurs ever found in Britain), a Bristol Boxkite, Bristol blue glass, ancient Egyptian mummies and a gypsy caravan.

High society

In Bath, No. 1 Royal Crescent (on the corner of John Wood the Younger’s architectural masterpiece) is an impeccably furnished recreation of Georgian life above and below stairs. Nearby, the Assembly Rooms – the place to hang out in Georgian society – is home to the Fashion Museum’s collection of historic and contemporary dress.

Bath’s American Museum in Britain – the only museum of Americana outside the United States – maps the country’s history from early pioneers to the 20th century. And closer to home, the singular Museum of Bath at Work exhibits reconstructions of a Bath stone mine, a cabinet maker’s workshop and a Victorian soft drinks factory. 

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