The Higgins Bedford

The Higgins Bedford
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The Higgins Bedford reopened in June 2013 following a major redevelopment. The Higgins showcases wonderful and varied collections including the Cecil Higgins Collection of fine and decorative arts, with its world-class watercolour and print collections and unique groups of work by the designers William Burges and Edward Bawden.

The watercolour collection includes works by Turner, Constable, Cotman and Blake, whilst the print collection includes works by Picasso, Goya, Munch and Bonnard alongside many others. The Higgins explores the inspiring stories of local people and encourages a ‘sense of place’ for Bedford and the surrounding area. Using collections of archaeology, social history and ethnography, The Higgins shows how the town of Bedford has developed.

Venue Type:

Gallery, Museum

Opening hours

The Higgins Bedford is Free to visit.
Opening Hours are: Tuesday - Saturday: 11am - 5pm
Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday: 2- 5pm
Closed Mondays, Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing day and new Year's Day

Admission charges

Adults Free
Childen Free

Discounts

  • National Art Pass
Getting there

By Road: If arriving from the north or south there are excellent links to Bedford from the M1, A1 and A6. If travelling from the west or east, the A421 and A428 provide easy access to the town. There is an excellent Park & Ride facility on the A6 at Elstow, south of Bedford, which is also convenient for visitors arriving on the A421 from the M1 and A1.

There are 4 car parking spaces at the entrance of the art gallery and museum for visitors with Accessible Parking Permits or Blue Badges.

The main routes to Bedford are:

From the M1 (North and South) : exit at Junction 13 and follow the A421 towards Bedford, and follow the signs to the Town Centre
From the A1 (North) : exit at the Black Cat roundabout and follow the A428 to Bedford, and then signs to the Town Centre
From the A1 (South) : exit at the Sandy roundabout and follow the A603 to Bedford, and then signs to the Town Centre

The nearest public car park is at Lurke Street, just 5 minutes walk from The Higgins Bedford. If attending evening functions the nearest 24 hour, open air, public car parks are St Peter’s Street and Riverside Square, both about 10 minutes walk.

By Train: The Higgins Bedford is 0.9 miles from Bedford Midland Railway Station. Follow the sign posted route to the Town Centre and Art Gallery & Museum, about 20 minutes walk. Alternatively there are taxis readily available at the railway station.

There are frequent services from London (St Pancras International) with trains arriving and departing every 30 minutes. The First Capital Connect service runs from Brighton, Gatwick Airport, London stations, St Albans and Luton through to Bedford. The East Midlands Trains service runs from Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Kettering and Wellingborough to Bedford, and on to St Pancras International.

Links

The Higgins Bedford includes the Cecil Higgins Collection of fine and decorative arts, with its world-class watercolour and print collections and unique groups of work by the designers William Burges and Edward Bawden. The watercolour collection
features works by British artists including Turner, Constable, Moore and Hepworth, whilst the print collection features works by international artists including Picasso, Goya and Warhol, alongside many others.

The Higgins Bedford celebrates the inspiring stories of local people and encourages a ‘sense of place’ for Bedford and the surrounding area.
Displays in Settlement, Somewhere in England and The Collectors explore how Bedford has developed over time and the town’s relationship with the wider
world, while Great Bedfordians features the stories of famous and lesser-known Bedfordians both past and present.

Collection details

Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Archaeology, Coins and Medals, Design, Industry, Toys and Hobbies, Social History, World Cultures

Key artists and exhibits

  • Edward Bawden
  • William Burges
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Highlanders: Billeted in Bedford at The Higgins Bedford

Highlanders: Billeted in Bedford

  • 27 September 2014 — 31 May 2015 *on now

Highlanders: Billeted in Bedford is part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by IWM (Imperial War Museums). The exhibition that explores the little-known story of the Highland Division billeted in Bedford between August 1914 and May 1915.

Up to 22,000 soldiers from Highland regiments arrived in the local area; given that the population of Bedford at the time was approximately 39,000, this was a very significant number. Alex Rule, a member of 1/4th Gordon Highlanders wrote ‘The quiet old county town was shaken to its foundations. We doubled the population; sheer weight of numbers alone made us a disturbing factor in its civic life’. However, the Highlanders soon become a welcome and familiar sight in the town, with many local families opening their doors to welcome the soldiers.

Highlanders: Billeted in Bedford runs until 31st May 2015 and will be accompanied by talks and special events. Please visit the website for further information.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

Free

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/exhibitions.aspx

Edward Bawden

Bawden's Book Illustration

  • 11 April 2015 — 16 January 2016 *on now

Bawden produced an astonishing number of illustrations for books and book jackets throughout his career. Whilst some of the titles themselves may not have stood the test of time Bawden’s illustrations remain as fresh and vibrant as the day they were published. His quirky and humorous work made him the perfect choice for publishers, ‘highly intelligent’ and ‘bursting with original and amusing ideas’

The illustrated bookjacket was something of a new phenomenon, only becoming firmly established in the 1920s. It was perfect timing for the young Edward Bawden who was employed by the Curwen Press, one of the finest book printers, whilst still a student. Bawden’s first illustrations were for ‘The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins’ by Robert Paltock. This early book published by J.M Dent & Sons, on display in the exhibition, shows one of Bawden’s early influences, the French Illustrator Edy Legrand and clearly shows the development of his work.

This book led to many more including titles for Faber & Faber, Penguin and Chatto & Windus and several plaudits including two Francis William Award for Illustration

This exhibition will feature early illustrations, unused designs, original art work as well as books written and illustrated by Bawden himself.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

FREE

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk

Bawden’s Book Illustration

  • 11 April — 11 July 2015 *on now

Bawden produced an astonishing number of illustrations for books and book jackets throughout his career. Whilst some of the titles themselves may not have stood the test of time Bawden’s illustrations remain as fresh and vibrant as the day they were published.

His quirky and humorous work made him the perfect choice for publishers, ‘highly intelligent’ and ‘bursting with original and amusing ideas’

This exhibition features early illustrations, unused designs, original art work and books written and illustrated by Bawden himself.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/exhibitions/coming_up.aspx

Howard Hodgkin

Abstract Britain: From Hepworth to Hodgkin

  • 25 April — 27 September 2015 *on now

Abstract Britain charts the journey of British art into abstraction in the mid-20th century. With works drawn entirely from the Cecil Higgins Collection, this exhibition highlights the astounding variety of ideas and styles produced by British artists over a fifty year period. Beginning with abstraction's early roots, the exhibition features the paintings, prints and sculpture of Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. As the decades progressed, artists continued to push the boundaries and produce paintings that had little or no reference to the outside world. from the monumental works of William Scott to the distinctive monochromes of Bridget Riley, Abstract Britain shows some of the best art produced by these remarkable artists.

Admission

FREE

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk

Abstract Britain

  • 25 April — 25 July 2015 *on now

Drawn entirely from the Cecil Higgins Collection, Abstract Britain charts Britain’s journey into abstraction.

This exhibition features work from the artists of St Ives, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Peter Lanyon, the post-war experimenters, William Scott and Victor Pasmore, the geometric abstraction of Bridget Riley and the emotionally figurative work of Howard Hodgkin.

The exhibition looks at the different paths British artists have taken to non-figurative representation.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/exhibitions/coming_up.aspx

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Castle Siege Capers

Castle Siege Capers

  • 29 May 2015 11am-5pm

Win or survive the Great Siege of Bedford Castle - play, make and take at the family half-term activity

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

£2.25 per participating child

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/whats_on/family_events.aspx

Seven Modern Artists We Should Know Better

Seven Modern Artists We Should Know Better

  • 9 June 2015 7:30-9pm

James Russell offers a tantalizing alternative vision of 20th century British art, discussing a small group of artists who all enjoyed success in their lifetime but are not necessarily appreciated today by the critics: Eric Ravilious is probably the most familiar of the group, alongside Norfolk landscape painter Edward Seago, Winifred Nicholson, Algernon Newton, New Zealand-born painter frances Hodgkins, flawed genius Christopher Wood, and Richard Eurich.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£8 (Friends £3)

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/whats_on/talks__tours.aspx

Ceramics Through Time

Delving Deeper: Ceramics Through Time 3

  • 10 June 2015 11:30am-12:30pm

Join Liz Pieksma, Keeper of Archaeology and ceramics specialist, for this talk exploring ceramics in The Higgins Bedford's collections. This session offers the chance to get up close to pottery from the Dark Ages to the medieaval period (410 - 1300AD). By examining pottery recovered from excavations, archaeologists can learn how and where it was made, as well as how it was used in domestic and ritual contexts.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£5.15 (Concessions £4.10)

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/whats_on/talks__tours.aspx

John Piper

Artist Spotlight: John Piper

  • 13 June — 12 July 2015

John Piper is the first in a new series of mini-exhibitions at The Higgins Bedford which cast a spotlight on artists in the Cecil Higgins Collection. Piper was one of the most important and diverse artists of the 20th century, famous for his paintings of churches, stately homes and romantic landscapes.
The gallery is lucky enough to have five fantastic pictures by Piper covering a period of forty years of his extraordinary career. Two of these works are new additions, kindly gifted to the gallery within in the last year. What makes these two prints stand out is the stunning depictions of buildings in Bedfordshire. Piper had a lifelong interest in architecture and it is fascinating to see his unique take on two of Bedfordshire’s most historic buildings.
Milton Ernest Hall made in 1977 depicts the only country house designed by the great Victorian architect William Butterfield. Now a nursing home, when Piper visited it was a country house hotel. The second print is of Willington Dovecote. The Dovecote along with its companion stables is the only building in Bedfordshire owned by the National Trust. It was built in the 1530’s by Sir John Gostwick using stone taken from local priories after the dissolution of the monasteries.
This will be the first time these works have been on display, and the first time all of the gallery’s Pipers have been on display.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

FREE

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk

Hidden History: An Archaeological Walk Around Bedford

Hidden History: An Archaeological Walk Around Bedford

  • 10 July 2015 11am-12pm

Join us for a walk back in time and discover the wealth of archaeological heritage hidden under our feet within Bedford town centre. We will start at The Higgins bedford and on our way will explore Ice Age mammals, Saxon churches, medieval fortifications and Bedford Castle, the site of an important and bloody power struggle.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

£5.15 (Concessions £4.10)

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/whats_on/talks__tours.aspx

Bawden's Book Illustrations

Bawden's Book Illustration

  • 13 August 2015 11:30am-12:45pm

Join Victoria Partridge, Keeper of Fine & Decorative Arts, for a longer look at Edward Bawden's book illustrations to accompany the current exhibition. The session will include a chance to explore illustrations from the archive, including original drawings for Bawden's Puffin Picture Book 'The Arabs', linocuts for 'Chronicles of King Arthur', and art work for 'Salammbo' by Gustave Flaubert.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£5.15 (Concessions £4.10)

Website

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/whats_on/talks__tours.aspx

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Art and Design

http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/learning/formal_learning.aspx

A wide range of sessions are available using the collections in the Gallery as inspiration for practical work.

We offer museum-led sessions in a range of practical art and design activities, especially print-making.

We are happy to tailor session to the needs of your particular group. Contact us to discuss options for your visit.

How to obtain

Contact: Learning & Access
T: 01234 718627
E: educationservice@bedford.gov.uk

Visit the Formal Learning pages on our website:

Describing Toys

Getting there

By Road: If arriving from the north or south there are excellent links to Bedford from the M1, A1 and A6. If travelling from the west or east, the A421 and A428 provide easy access to the town. There is an excellent Park & Ride facility on the A6 at Elstow, south of Bedford, which is also convenient for visitors arriving on the A421 from the M1 and A1.

There are 4 car parking spaces at the entrance of the art gallery and museum for visitors with Accessible Parking Permits or Blue Badges.

The main routes to Bedford are:

From the M1 (North and South) : exit at Junction 13 and follow the A421 towards Bedford, and follow the signs to the Town Centre
From the A1 (North) : exit at the Black Cat roundabout and follow the A428 to Bedford, and then signs to the Town Centre
From the A1 (South) : exit at the Sandy roundabout and follow the A603 to Bedford, and then signs to the Town Centre

The nearest public car park is at Lurke Street, just 5 minutes walk from The Higgins Bedford. If attending evening functions the nearest 24 hour, open air, public car parks are St Peter’s Street and Riverside Square, both about 10 minutes walk.

By Train: The Higgins Bedford is 0.9 miles from Bedford Midland Railway Station. Follow the sign posted route to the Town Centre and Art Gallery & Museum, about 20 minutes walk. Alternatively there are taxis readily available at the railway station.

There are frequent services from London (St Pancras International) with trains arriving and departing every 30 minutes. The First Capital Connect service runs from Brighton, Gatwick Airport, London stations, St Albans and Luton through to Bedford. The East Midlands Trains service runs from Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Kettering and Wellingborough to Bedford, and on to St Pancras International.

The Higgins Bedford
Castle Lane
Bedford
Bedfordshire
MK40 3XD
England

Website

E-mail

Contact us

thehiggins@bedford.gov.uk

Telephone

The Higgins Bedford

01234 718618

Education Service

01234 718627

Fax

Main Gallery

01234 718619

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.
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