Arnolfini art gallery Bristol harbour side
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Arnolfini is a contemporary arts organisation in Bristol that attracts half a million visits a year.

In a fantastic waterside location at the heart of Bristol’s harbourside, Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading centres for the contemporary arts, presenting innovative, experimental work in the visual arts, performance, dance, film, music and events, accompanied by a programme of educational activities. Five exhibition spaces, a theatre/cinema auditorium, Reading Room and Light/Dark Studios are housed in the Grade II listed, fully accessible building. The converted warehouse also contains one of the country’s best arts bookshops as well a café bar.

Arnolfini is open six days a week with free admission to the building, exhibitions as well as a stylish, lively café bar.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

11am - 6pm, Tues - Sun and Bank Holiday Mondays
Closed Mondays

Tues 11am-6pm
Wed-Sat 11am-8pm
Sun 11am - 7pm

Cafe Bar:
Mon 10am - 6pm
Tues - Sat 10am - 9pm
Sun 10am - 7pm

Reading Room:
11pm - 6pm, Tues - Sun

Closed: Mondays (except Bank Holidays)

Admission charges

Admission to the exhibitions is free.

In the visual art programme Arnolfini presents international developments and emerging trends through one-person and group exhibitions, commissions and projects. The programme draws attention to important British artists at an early stage of their career and presents timely exhibitions by major international artists.

The live art and dance programme, with its mix of highly visual, often provocative and non-narrative productions, offers one of the most exciting perspectives on contemporary performance and dance in the UK. Arnolfini is committed to commissioning new work to enable artists to develop their practice and to experiment.

In Arnolfini's cinema you'll find a distinctive programme of independent film, featuring a range of cinema including themed seasons, artists films, special festivals, film/music events and arthouse titles.

The learning and interaction programme continues to develop projects with partners old and new, supporting teachers and groups to get the most out of our activities. Arnolfini also programmes and hosts a range of talks, events, courses and local festivals.

Arnolfini celebrated its 50th birthday in 2011. It was established in 1961 by Jeremy and Annabel Rees above a bookshop on the Triangle in central Bristol. Its policy then is still relevant today: "to seek out challenging, often controversial and sometimes relatively unknown artists and performers and to provide a vital showcase for their work." Arnolfini's move to Narrow Quay in 1975 proved a catalyst in attracting other businesses to the then neglected dockside; the revitalised waterfront is now a focal point for Bristol's social and cultural life.

Collection details

Photography, Performing Arts, Music, Fine Art, Film and Media, Design

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Michael Dean : NOW NOW NOW NOW (Working Title), 2015

  • 12 October 2015 — 31 January 2016 *on now

Michael Dean works with sculpture, photography, performance and drawing. Made from cast concrete or other industrial materials, his sculptures seek a direct physical relationship with the human body. Their rough but delicate surfaces have the appearance of fossils or archaeological remains, and emphasise a tactile as much as visual experience.

Dean is interested in using language in its different incarnations to explore the relationship between ideas and form. Language, understood as something we intimately share and use to communicate, perceive and shape the world around us, occupies an important position in his practice. Dean’s sculptures evolve from his extensive writing and give physical form to words in the artist's own three-dimensional ‘fonts’, visible for example in triangular lines on the sculptures, or the forms of the works themselves.

NOW NOW NOW NOW (Working Title), 2015, is a site specific work for the Harris and Co building. Dean has interrupted wooden hoarding as a sculptural element, a large structure which is angled typographically to illegibly spell out the words “…now”. The surface is fly-posted in a moth-like moraine of hand cut collaged mountain faces. This cryptic geometric landscape stretches along Farrs Lane and Narrow Quay, suggesting a monumental abstract geography at the intersection between the public space of the harbourside and the evolving building behind.


AIM: Somewhere in the City

  • 24 — 29 November 2015 *on now

Somewhere in the City is a participatory arts and heritage project that has been exploring an over-looked, historic area of Bristol: a cluster of streets and lanes behind the Hippodrome and extending up to Red Lodge.

The artists participating in the project have worked with AIM to explore this area of the city and have, through research and investigation, created works of art from their responses to the site.

All the artists involved in the project have some form of disability and the project has given them the opportunity to develop and evolve their own practice while contributing their unique approach and vision to the city in which they live.

The project is part of an EU funded international exchange program, Expanding Realities, in collaboration between AIM, CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, GASP, Cork Ireland and Debajo del Sombrero, Madrid, Spain.


isik knutsdotter of Fourthland: back to where we have not quite been

  • 26 — 29 November 2015

Bringing together sculpture, performance, song, and workshops back to where we have not quite been is a four day event staged at Arnolfini which merges ideas from anthropology, science and psychoanalysis suggesting a new folk tale and ways of communing. The project is the culmination of a research residency in Bristol by artists isik knutsdotter of Fourthland as part of ‘Resilience Lab’, a project curated by Tessa Fitzjohn and Aldo Rinaldi and organised in partnership with the Cabot Institute, Bristol University and funded by Whitbread PLC.

Staged across the first floor galleries, back to where we have not quite been comprises a curated exhibition featuring objects and artworks made especially for Arnolfini. Over four days the galleries will be punctuated by a series of performances and public events, from the telling of new stories using old ways, to ancient processes interpreted through performances and engaging with tactile objects and surfaces, to a dreaming workshop and the consumption of a ‘culture’, available to visitors for communal drinking.


Art from Elsewhere: International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries

  • 22 April — 17 July 2016

The Art Fund International scheme, launched in 2007, allocated six museums across the UK up to £1m to invest in acquisitions from international artists over a period of five years. The successful collections were Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with The New Art Gallery Walsall, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) and Towner, Eastbourne.

This Hayward Touring exhibition, curated by internationally renowned curator David Elliott, recognises the vital importance of continuing to enrich collections of contemporary art throughout the country. The tour will culminate in Bristol and will be presented over two venues: Arnolfini in partnership with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Jeremy Lewison, Arnolfini Trustee, and Tom Trevor, Arnolfini former director, provided pro bono advice to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in the acquisition process.

Focusing on socially engaged art practices in a global context, Art from Elsewhere features around 70 works by 39 internationally celebrated artists from 22 countries in a variety of media including works on paper, video, sculpture and painting and by some of the most important and culturally diverse artists working today (Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Ai Weiwei, Shilpa Gupta, and Józef Robakowski). The exhibition also features works by seminal figures in the history of conceptual art such as Robert Smithson, Ana Mendieta, and Carl Andre,and several important young voices enter British museums for the first time, such as Emily Jacir, Yto Barrada and Mohamed Bourouissa.


Daphne Wright: Emotional Archaeology

  • 21 October 2016 — 15 January 2017

Over twenty five years, often ahead of her time, Daphne Wright has developed sculptural languages and conceptual tactics that have been quietly influential. Wright’s art is the result of a relentless curiosity into how a deep engagement with materials can explore often unspoken human preoccupations.

Casting, sound recording, film making and drawing result in series of works that examine issues such as parenting, aging and mankind’s complex relationship with animals. Wright is not afraid to embrace domestic and familial subjects in order to encourage a genuine psychological commitment from the viewer. This major solo exhibition, curated by Jo Lanyon, will present a number of key works spanning Wright’s career, considering the artist as an emotional archaeologist.


16 Narrow Quay
City of Bristol



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All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.