For a city of modest size, Bath has more museums than most. Within a square mile of a city, which is also a designated World Heritage Site, lie 17 museums and galleries that cover everything from Roman heritage to contemporary fashion.
© The Building of Bath Collection
Add to this a well deserved reputation as an open air museum with some of the best Georgian architecture in the world, there’s plenty to keep the four million tourist visitors that flock to the city every year interested and entertained.
Now the city’s marketing body Bath Tourism Plus is consolidating promoting this impressive assemblage of art, history and heritage by declaring 2011 as Year of the Museum.
Special events and exhibitions are planned for the year of celebrations together with a new World Heritage Audio Trail and a scheme to highlight some of the best objects across Bath museum collections called “Bath in 100 Objects”.
Ambitious plans are also afoot for citywide events celebrating World Heritage Day in April and the popular Museums at Night event in May 2011.
Over the past five years £20 million has been invested in the redevelopment of three of the museums in the city; the Holburne Museum, the Roman Baths and the American Museum in Britain who will each be launching a programme of events in 2011 to celebrate their improvements.
© Bath Preservation Trust
In May 2011 the Holburne Museum, which sits grandly and the end of Great Poultney Street, will reveal a contemporary extension that double its display space and allow it to host major exhibitions and reveal more of its wonderful collection of 9000 extraordinary objects and artwork founded by Sir William Holburne.
Exhibition highlights will include Peter Blake, A Museum for Myself, opening in mid May and Gainsborough Landscapes, Themes and Variations, which opens in September.
At the Roman Baths they have already completed a five-year, £5.5 million project to improve interpretation, conservation and access at the atmospheric site. The improved visitor experience includes the chance to meet Roman characters that lived and worked in the region, making it easier to imagine what life was really like in Roman Times.
Another five-year period of investment and refurbishment will be celebrated at the American Museum where a new Folk Art Gallery and a new education centre in the Coach House opens in 2011. An exhibition will also celebrate American screen legend Marilyn Monroe and feature 20 of her gowns.
Across the rest of the city’s museums, which include the Fashion Museum, Victoria Art Gallery and Jane Austen Centre, a Museum of the Month scheme will be launched on www.visitbath.co.uk. Visitors to the site can also download a new free MP3 audio guide to Bath by Dr Amy Frost, Curator of Beckford’s Tower that tells visitors how to stroll across the city discovering more about its fascinating history in its museums.
For more information see www.visitbath.co.uk