Photo by Andy Fletcher, courtesy of Victoria Art Gallery

For Art Lovers

Our top suggestions for a mix of the old, the new and the grassroots

Day 1

Academies, Galleries, Art Houses and a miniature forest....

From street art to Victorian art galleries, Bristol really does have it all when it comes to creativity...

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Courtesy of RWA

RWA

Start the day in Bristol with a visit to the only Royal Academy of Art outside London. This magnificent early Victorian building has five naturally lit galleries and is a delightful setting to the regularly changing exhibitions. Admission charges apply.

Venue information
  • Walk 5 mins
Courtesy of Bristol Museums

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

The Museum's permanent collection includes jaw-dropping examples of natural, cultural and archeological curiosities from across the globe. Expect to see Ancient Egyptian and Roman remains next to Victorian taxidermy and even an ornate gypsy caravan! Explore old master paintings and contemporary works, as well as impressive ceramic and glassware.

Venue information
  • Walk 5 mins
Courtesy of Visit Bristol

En route

Take a right outside the Museum entrance and the first right up University Road. This will take you to the campus of Bristol University and the Royal Fort Gardens.

Courtesy of Hollow

Hollow

Step inside an artwork that contains a miniature forest of all the world’s trees. This permanent public artwork by artist Katie Paterson is made up over 10,000 unique tree species, collected from across the globe and spanning 390 million years. Step inside and be immersed into another world, where the walls and ceilings hang with wooden stalactites from across time and space, each with their own story to tell.

Venue information
  • Walk 20 mins

En route

Exit Hollow left onto Tankard's Close, then take a right down St Michaels Hill. Cross over to Colston Street and the historic Christmas Steps to experience some 17th century window-shopping.

Afternoon

After a morning of grand buildings, historic collections and miniature forests, have a relaxing afternoon in some contemporary art spaces.

Photo by Jamie Woodley

Arnolfini

Sitting proudly on the corner of the harbour is the iconic converted warehouse, Arnolfini, now a vibrant contemporary art space. Pop in, discover the current programme of events, browse the specialist bookshop (we defy you to come away empty handed), maybe even take your new purchase into the newly transformed cafe and sink in for the afternoon....

Venue information
  • Walk 20 mins
  • Cycle 5 mins
Photo by Shawn Spencer Smith

En route

Cross Prince Street bridge and stroll along the harbour, passing M Shed, a museum about the history of Bristol, and The Matthew, a reconstruction of the ship that sailed to America in 1497.

Courtesy of Spike Island

Spike Island

Finish the day at Spike Island, where this former tea packing factory now exhibits the best in contemporary art within its beautifully curated spaces. Expect a calming space to explore the latest exhibition, mixed with a tangible buzz of activity flowing through the building from over 70 artists who reside in creative studios behind the scenes.

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Courtesy of Upfest

Evening across the water

Whilst south of the harbour, head across the bridge to North Street in Southville: a vibrant street packed full of bars and restaurants, which is also home to Europe's largest Street Art festival, Upfest.

Day 2

Old Masters to Contemporary Edge

At the forefront of artistic life for centuries, Bath's visual arts are still pushing boundaries.

Photo by Andy Fletcher, courtesy of Victoria Art Gallery

Victoria Art Gallery

Victoria Art Gallery is well worth the visit for the permanent collection which houses works from the likes of Gainsborough and Turner. We recommend taking the time to also see the imaginative temporary exhibitions - these have previously featured excellent contemporary work such as photographs from Don McCullin, tapestries by Grayson Perry and Howard Hodgkins’ paintings.

Venue information
  • Walk 5 mins
Courtesy of Visit Bath

En route

Cross Pulteney Bridge, a Palladian marvel lined with small shops, then pretend you are in a Jane Austen film with a promenade down Great Pulteney Street.

Courtesy of the Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum

Sat prominently at the far end of Great Pulteney Street is this unmissable museum whose permanent collection showcases works by Gainsborough, Zoffany and Stubbs. One of Bath’s most beautiful Georgian buildings, the Holburne now has an award winning modern extension of glass and steel to the rear which houses temporary exhibitions. The museum is increasingly becoming known for contemporary shows from the likes of Peter Blake, Anthony Fry and Bridget Riley.

Venue information
  • Walk 30 mins
  • Bus 15 mins
  • Car 10 mins
Photo by DAVID ILIFF, License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

En route

Take a left out of the Holburne and turn onto Bathwick Hill - you can get the U1 bus up the steep hill to the University Campus. Or if you're feeling ambitious hike the one mile stretch.

Photo by Paul Blakemore

The Edge

The Edge is a modern arts centre housing a spacious gallery with regularly changing contemporary exhibitions. Part of the University of Bath, it’s a cultural hub that promotes the fusion of science and art, mixing artists, researchers and academics to create a unique and fascinating programme. Recharge with a coffee and soak up the hub activities in the vibrant centre of the ground floor.

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