City of Bristol
0117 352 6600
M Shed is an exciting and innovative new museum for Bristol that tells the story of our city.
Located on the historic dockside, Bristol’s flagship museum has been designed to retain the character of the former 1950s transit shed.
Three galleries reveal the fascinating story of the city and its unique place in the world. From prehistoric times to the present day, explore the history of Bristol through the objects and stories of the people who have made the city what it is today.
See amazing film and photographs, listen to moving personal stories, encounter rare and quirky objects and add your own memories of the city through the many interactive displays.
M Shed is a living museum, where stories of the past will spark discussions about the future- where YOU can contribute to the changing story of the city.
Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm [closed Mondays]
Weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays 10am-6pm
When this museum opens, part of Bristol Museums’ Designated Collections related to Bristol’s role as a manufacturing city and major seaport will be on display here.
Other parts of these collections can be seen at Bristol’s City Museum & Art Gallery, Georgian House, Red Lodge, and Blaise Castle House Museum. Please contact Bristol Museums for more information if you wish to see a specific item.
The museums were Designated in respect of outstanding collections relating to the City of Bristol, including topographical paintings and prints, maps and archaeological collections. The collections relating to the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries are particularly rich, and reflect the importance of Bristol in those centuries.
Key artists and exhibits
- Designated Collection
Open for Business
- 22 March — 21 June 2015
Open for Business is the story of contemporary British manufacturing and industry told through the lens of nine internationally renowned documentary photographers.
In 2013, Jonas Bendiksen, Stuart Franklin, Bruce Gilden, David Hurn, Peter Marlow, Martin Parr, Mark Power, Chris Steele-Perkins and Alessandra Sanguinetti photographed over 100 workplaces across the UK, from one-man businesses to FTSE 100 companies.
Through eye-opening photography and film footage, Open for Business celebrates the resilience of British industry and reveals the daily struggle at a human level as businesses attempt to cut costs, streamline processes and level up to international competition. The project captures British manufacturing’s effect on regional culture and community life, and celebrates the work, activities and lives of its employees.
Bristol based photographer Martin Parr has captured the innovative industries in the city from Cameron Balloons’ 40 year history as the largest manufacture of hot air balloons in the world, to the cutting edge engineering at BAE Systems and the more painstaking meticulous work of Aardman Animations.
See a diverse collection of over 100 documentary photographs presented in this national touring exhibition.
Nature, Camera, Action!
- 18 July — 1 November 2015
The deepest oceans, the coldest continents, the most fearsome animals – wildlife film-makers and photographers have faced it all in pursuit of the perfect shot. Explore the challenges they face and the amazing kit they use, in this exciting exhibition for the whole family.
‘Nature, Camera, Action!’ is our flagship exhibition in support of the Green Capital programme of events. It highlights Bristol as a global centre for wildlife filmmaking within the international framework of this exhibition, developed by the BBC and the National Media Museum, Bradford.
Behind the Scenes Tour
- 20 January — 26 April 2015 *on now
Join a tour of M Shed’s collection stores and encounter treasures from the city’s industrial and maritime past. Tours take place every Tuesday-Saturday.
Tues ,Thur, Fri & Sat – 11.30am
Weds – 2.30pm
Book on the day. For advance bookings, call 0117 352 6600.
Suggested donation £3
Historical Walk: Redcliffe
- 27 March 2015 1:30-3:30pm
- 24 April 2015 1:30-3:30pm
Venture on our guided walk into the once-autonomous township of Redcliffe, where you will find some of the most impressive remains of historical Bristol.
See landmarks, such as St. Mary Redcliffe church and Temple Meads railway station, to tucked-away gems, such as the Hermit’s Cave and the remains of the city’s Water Gate.
Our guides will reveal how this fascinating and often overlooked area played a vital role in establishing Bristol’s reputation as a world-class city.
The walk is at a gentle pace and suitable for participants at all levels of physical ability.
Suggested donation £2
Historical Walk: Floating Harbour
- 3 March 2015 10:30am-12:30pm *on now
- 7 April 2015 10:30am-12:30pm
Join our expert guides as they take you on a trip into Bristol’s old docklands, pointing out its maritime heritage and supplementing the tour with a wealth of fascinating photographs and maps.
Suggested donation £2
Behind the scenes tour for Deaf visitors
- 6 March 2015 11am-12:30pm
A tour for the Deaf community, led by Jemima Buoy to find out more about the history of Bristol through objects not usually on show to the public.
International Women’s Day: Building Bridges
- 7 March 2015 11am-5pm
A day packed full of activities, workshops, speakers, music and performances to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Join a drama workshop with playback theatre group Breathing Fire
participate in a group weaving project to capture local women’s words and advice
join a puppet-making workshop
or participate in a sing-along with local voice coach Jules Olsen.
The day focuses on breaking barriers and building bridges, so there will be speed-friending – the opportunity to speed meet other like-minded women, Netwalking around the Docks plus the Breeze cycle ride – a cycle tour of Bristol women’s history.
There will also be the opportunity for men to get involved in some of the day’s events. Mayor George Ferguson will be supporting a city wide campaign to end gender-based violence, followed by a workshop by local charity Integrate Bristol, on spotting and dealing with FGM and gender-based violence.
Historical Walk: Victoria Park
- 11 March 2015 10:30am-12:30pm
- 15 April 2015 10:30am-12:30pm
Discover how Bedminster evolved from a rural Somerset parish to a bustling industrial town and the inevitable impact that this had on public health on this three mile walk.
Our expert guides will highlight some of the key features of the Victorian expansion of south Bristol, illustrating the walk with a wealth of historical photographs, drawings and maps.
Suggested donation £2
- 14 March 2015 10:30am-1pm, 2-4:30pm
Ever wanted your very own robot? Make it buzz, shine, move and more?
Learn how to build a robot using Raspberry Pi mini computers. These Bristol designed and built kit robots are a fun way to play with new technologies with the people from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory – you’re only limited by your imagination!
If you would like to take your robot home, you can buy a Build-a-Bot kit on the day for £38.
Suitable for ages 10+
£5 adult / £3 child
Raising spirits: The tale of Thomas Perks of Mangotsfield
- 19 March 2015 6-7:30pm
Find out about the story of Thomas Perks, a gunsmith’s son from Mangotsfield, who was reported to have ‘conjured’ spirits in Kingswood in the early 1690s.
His story was first told in a letter by Arthur Bedford, vicar of Temple in Bristol, in 1704. His letter was reprinted in varying versions in both manuscript and print, and became a regular feature in anthologies of the supernatural.
Although subject to Enlightenment scepticism, the story also attracted belief from a surprising range of people
sometimes as a warning against the dangers of the devil, but for others as proof of the potential for communication with spirits.
Historical Walk: Old City
- 19 March 2015 10:30am-12:30pm
- 23 April 2015 10:30am-12:30pm
Discover a millennium of history on this 1.8 mile walk around the heart of Bristol’s old city.
Our expert walk leaders will point out locations which saw the birth of the city, its growth and later decline as a major seaport and centre of commerce. Discover some of the events, people and places that earned the city a place in national history, culture and the arts.
The walk is at a gentle pace on level terrain and is suitable for participants at all levels of physical ability.
Suggested donation £2
Buildings of Bristol
- 21 March 2015 10am-5pm
Explore the origins and development of the town house in Bristol from before the Norman Conquest to architectural masterpieces of the 1700s with Bristol Threatened History Society’s symposium.
To book onto Buildings of Bristol, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 985 8109.
£15 / £12 conc.
Open for Business: lunchtime tour
- 27 March 2015 1-2pm
- 24 April 2015 1-2pm
Students and lectures from the BA Photography course at UWE Bristol lead an informal tour
- 28 — 29 March 2015 12-5pm
Take a boat trip with a difference! Watch the powerful water cannon at work on Bristol’s former fire-boat, on a trip around the docks that she was built to protect.
£6 adults / £4 child, concession
- 4 — 6 April 2015
Take a train trip on the Bristol Harbour Railway and be transported back to the days of steam. Ride on Britain’s only dockside steam railway behind one of our Bristol-built locomotives.
All Day Rover – £4
Single £2 / Return to ss Great Britain – £3
Under 6s travel free
John King trips
- 11 — 12 April 2015 12-5pm
Take a trip on the harbour on the John King – a 1935 diesel tug built to tow cargo ships from Bristol City Docks to the mouth of the River Avon.
£6 adults / £4 child, concession
What did King John do for us?
- 16 April 2015 6-7:30pm
John (1166 – 1216) first as prince and then as King, was a patron of Bristol. During his reign the city flourished – maybe ‘Bad King John’ as he’s now known, wasn’t so bad for Bristol after all. Find out on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.
In November 1216 Magna Carta was reissued by the royal council meeting in Bristol. Peter Fleming puts this event in the context of the Bristol region’s history from 1154, to the middle of the thirteenth century.
Peter will focus on this dynamic period, beginning with the expansion of the Gascon wine trade, which had a very important impact on Bristol’s economy, and ending with the extensive civil engineering projects in Bristol in the 1240s: the creation of a new deep-water harbour, new bridges and town walls, and the reclamation of much of the marshland around Bristol’s original site.
Summer Walk – 40 years since the closure of the City Docks
- 20 May 2015 6:45-9pm
Join Senior Curator, Andy King, and discover the history the City Docks before their closure in 1 April 1975.
40 years since the docks ceased to operate as a commercial port, bringing to an end 1000 years of trading. This walk will look at some of the developments since and consider what the future might hold.
Military Rule and the ‘Suspected Persons’ of the Cromwellian South-West
- 21 May 2015 6-7:30pm
A talk with Alex Craven looking at how suspected Royalists from the south west were treated after a failed uprising against the rule of Oliver Cromwell in 1655.
After the uprising, Cromwell as Lord Protector imposed a system of military government across England and Wales. The country was divided into several regions, each governed by a Major-General, who were commanded to take bonds for good behaviour from suspected Royalists.
In the south west, Major-General Desborough took bonds from over 5,000 men, many of them of very humble status. Alex Craven will explore who these south-west ‘suspected persons’ were, and examine what it meant to be included amongst their number.
A Hogarthian second city?
- 18 June 2015 6-7:30pm
Historian Steve Poole looks at everyday life on the streets of Bristol in the eighteenth century and the comparisons with William Hogarth’s portrayal of London life at that time.
Hogarth’s depictions have heavily influenced the ways in which we imagine the urban scene in Georgian England. From riotous elections and gin-soaked rookeries to pox-marked prostitutes and bacchanalian behaviour at the gallows, Hogarthian London is a place marked by moral turpitude, disorder, corruption and squalor.
Nineteenth century chroniclers labelled Bristol’s mob as the most dangerous in England – social relations between the city’s poor and elite classes could be lively and often fraught. What provoked and motivated the Bristol crowd and by what rules, if any, was it governed?