The Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum

The Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum
Clarence Street
GL50 3JT




01242 237431


01242 262334

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Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum re-opens to the public on the 5th October 2013, as The Wilson, following a major new build costing in the region of £6 million.

In 1898 the third Baron de Ferrieres donated 43 important paintings and £1000 to the town of Cheltenham to build a gallery, which opened a year later. The collections have since grown in number and in quality, with the great majority generously given by the people of Cheltenham.

In 1975 a branch museum was opened in the birthplace of composer Gustav Holst, which was completely furnished from the collections. This became an independent museum in 2000.

The first real increase in space and visitor facilities came in 1989 when HRH The Princess Royal opened an extension to the Art Gallery & Museum. This is the building in which the main entrance is sited.

A major re-development project has transformed Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, allowing for improved access and enhanced opportunities for the display of its locally, regionally, nationally and internationally important art and heritage collections. It has also enabled the Art Gallery & Museum to become a major venue for national and international touring exhibitions.

This museum has a Designated Collection of national importance.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery

Opening hours

Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum closed to the public on 1 April 2011, for the start of a major re-development project, Building for a New Future. It has now re-opened to the public (from 5th October 2013), as The Wislon follwoing a major new build costing in the region of £6 million.

Admission charges


The Arts and Crafts collection at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.

Cheltenham's Designated collection relates to the British Arts and Crafts Movement spanning the 1880s to about 1940. The Cotswolds were an important centre for one of Britain's most inspiring and influential art movements. The collection has a strong local base featuring furniture, silver, metalwork, plasterwork, leatherwork and embroideries by designers such as C.R. Ashbee and Ernest Gimson. Since the 1970s the collection has been developed to give a national overview with work by William Morris, C.F.A. Voysey, Baillie Scott, Eric Gill and many others. Visitors are captivated by the colourful designs and craft skills on show as well as the thought-provoking social message of the Movement with its emphasis on creative manual work.

Cheltenham's history is also well represented, and in addition there are paintings spanning four centuries, oriental collections of pottery and costume, and archaeological treasures from the neighbouring Cotswolds, as well as a programme of special exhibitions changing regularly throughout the year.

Collection details

World Cultures, Weapons and War, Social History, Science and Technology, Personalities, Natural Sciences, Music, Land Transport, Fine Art, Decorative and Applied Art, Costume and Textiles, Coins and Medals, Archives, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • Arts and Crafts Movement
  • 17th- and 19th-century Dutch and Belgian paintings
  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Richard Deacon


  • 18 January — 21 April 2014 *on now

Rodin’s world renowned marble sculpture The Kiss returns to Cheltenham in February 2014, 80 years after it was first here. Now in the collection at the Tate, The Kiss first came to Cheltenham in 1933 because the sculpture failed to reach its reserve price at the sale held after the owner, Mr Warren’s death in 1929. Realising it wasn’t a good time to sell, the beneficiary of Warren’s will offered the sculpture to any provincial gallery who could pay for the transport and insurance. The offer was taken up by Cheltenham and the sculpture was shown in the Art Gallery & Museum for three years. After this it went on loan to the Tate and in 1952 the Tate launched a successful public campaign to buy The Kiss for the nation.

The Kiss will be displayed in the Atrium, part of the newly designed and recently opened building and is the inspiration for the Art Gallery & Museum’s second major exhibition, Embrace.

Embrace will feature work by both 20th century and contemporary artists whose work represents the tenderness, intimacy and passion of an embrace through sculpture, film, installation and photography – some literal, others in more abstract forms.

Artists represented include Jacob Epstein, Marc Chagall, Eileen Agar, Kenneth Armitage, William Rothenstein, Peter Howson, Gilbert and George, Charlie Murphy, Ian Berry, David Inshaw, Emma Critchley, Eileen Cooper and Chris Ofili.

The exhibition events programme will include a Valentine’s Day evening with a French theme, a variety of practical art activities for children and families and dance performances inspired by the exhibition and the sculptor Camille Claudel, who trained with Rodin.

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.
Fred Deakin Djing

Museums At Night with Fred Deakin

  • 17 May 2014

On Saturday May 17th Fred Deakin will be travelling to The Wilson Cheltenham to host an audience participation quiz and showcase local musical talent. The Wilson won Fred by a mere 22 votes in the closest result of the online poll to win an artist.

The event has been planned in collaboration with The Wilson Collective, a group of 16-25 year olds who are interested in arts and culture. They identified a gap for a place to perform new music Cheltenham's cultural scene, and are excited to get exposure on the night.

After an extensive redevelopment The Wilson re-opned in October 2013 and now has plenty of space for all sorts of arts activities. We will be dotting musicians around the gallery and museum collections which range from cutting edge contemporary art (The Open West), classic sculpture (Rodin's Kiss which has returned to Cheltenham after a lengthly absence) to our beautiful new paper store containing the Emery Walker library and some of the finest collections of letterpressed theatre playbills in the country.

The hugely diverse nature of the collections makes the perfect setting for an audience participation quiz. On entering the Wilson, the audience will issued with different coloured wristbands. As they wander around the galleries and listen to the music in the mezzanine space, challenges will be set every half hour. 'Everyone with a blue wristband take a picture of a mummified foot on your phone!' They will then need to come back and show the results to a volunteer from the collective who will log results. The winning team will receive a limited edition mix CD from Fred Deakin and the night will end in a big party with a Fred Deakin set.

Museums at Night is the first late night opening for The Wilson since reopening and will kickstart an innovative series of late openings in the following months.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Adults £5.00
Concessions (OAP, Student, Unemployed) £4.00
Children £3.00
Group discount of 20% available for groups over 6 people or more
Please call 01242 775724 to book


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.

At the Seaside

All children love a visit to the seaside, even if it's located inside a museum! This workshop looks back at seaside holidays in the past, through objects, paintings and photographs. There's an original Mr Punch puppet, and costume for looking at and trying on. Children have the chance to think about the similar ways in which they enjoy the seaside to children in the past, even if the costumes were different!

Evacuation Experience

A joint venture with the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire Railway, the Evacuation Experience sees children in 1940s costume travelling by steam train to the 'safety of the countryside.' At the station, they meet Aunty Doris who talks to them about the War, before being allocated jobs on the farm. Available on certain dates only.

Face to Face

An Art & Design workshop based on our wonderful collection of portraits.

How to obtain

Email or or telephone 01242 775702

Identity Parade

Every Wednesday 14.00-17.00, bring your mystery objects, from household items to paintings, to Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum and we'll try to help you find out more about them. If we can't help we're sure to know someone who can.

How to obtain

Drop in between 14.00-17.00, free of charge. Contact the gallery on or 01242 237431 for more details on Identity Parade.

Investigating Toys

Examples of toys from the past, present and other cultures that illustrate forces, movements, energy, sound, light and the use of materials.


  • Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, Education and Outreach Service


  • Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum

Puppet Workshop

This workshop offers children the opportunity to investigate and enjoy the world-wide tradition of puppets. They can try out marionettes, shadow, rod and glove puppets, and can see Punch and Judy, a wartime Mickey Mouse made from blackout material as well as examples of the Arts & Crafts tradition with beautifully carved animals. The children then produce their own shadow puppet performance.

The Tudors

A workshop offering an opportunity to develop historical knowledge and understanding of everyday life in Tudor times. An exploration of objects in the galleries is complemented by hands-on experience of a range of original and replica artefacts and costume.

How to obtain

For details of costs and availability please email or telephone 01242 775702.

Victorian Life

This popular workshop can be tailored to focus on handling materials that illustrate rural and home life, childhood, education and costume, comparing Victorian life to the present day. This is a unique opportunity to handle original and replica objects and takes the learning experience beyond the glass cases of the museum.

How to obtain

Please e-mail for details of cost and availability.