Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is in the Old Town area of Swindon. In 1930, Apsley House, which until then had always been a family house, was adapted to house the Museum Collection. The elegant staircase, decorative plaster work and stained glass details which originally graced family rooms have now become familiar to many visitors to the Museum and Art Gallery.
The Museum and Art Gallery has been housed together in this building for many years so it is little wonder that the name Apsley House has become largely forgotten. There remains however, a faint reminder for those with sharp eyesight, for the name is inscribed on the old gate posts, which formed the original entrance from Bath Road. Though that access is now blocked by railings, those stone posts remain and will do for a long time to come.
The aim of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is to safeguard, enhance, exhibit and celebrate Swindon’s collections for visitors, now and in the future.
The Museum was founded by Charles Gore in 1919 as a place to display his extensive geological collections. Gore was the first curator of the museum and the collections were built up following the fashions of the time, focussing on broad themes rather than local connections. He acquired natural history, egyptological and ethnographic collections, along with archaeological materials. Through time the collections have become more focussed on Swindon and the surrounding areas and we hold objects dating from prehistory to the present showing the development of the area and the people who lived in it.
In 1941 the art collection was established by an impressive donation of 21 works by a local businessman HJP Bomford. This collection has been built on and today Swindon Museum and Art Gallery owns a modern art collection of outstanding quality and importance. In addition we also hold an excellent collection of studio ceramics and a number of local artworks.
Tuesday - Saturdays
10am - 5pm
Closed: Sun, Mon and Bank Holidays
Some workshops and talks incure a fee
The Museum and Art Gallery is spread over several floors with no lift facilities, please contact us in advance if you have any access difficulties so we can plan ahead for you.
Housed in a listed building in Swindon's Old Town, the Swindon Community Heritage Museum and Art Gallery displays exhibits of local history, archaeology and geology. It tells the story of Swindon's jurassic past, its connections with the Roman Empire as well as the more recent social history of this thriving town. There is also a programme of temporary exhibitions taken from the museum collections. Unusual exhibits include a 4.5m (15ft) Indian crocodile, an Egyptian mummy of a 12-year-old boy, a unique Roman lead casket and glass urn and the Garrards collection of record turntables. Swindon's remarkable art collection is housed in the Swindon Art Gallery, which is adjacent to the Community Heritage Museum in Bath Road, Old Town, Swindon. It was established by local benefactor, H J P Bomford, during 1944 from a generous donation of works. These works form the nucleus of the collection and include many of the major British artists of the day such as Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, L S Lowry, Paul Nash and many others. Through an imaginative purchasing programme, the collection now has a reputation as one of the best of British 20th Century Art outside London. A more recent acquisition was Laundromat Locomotion, consisting of 12 photographs by Turner Prize short-listed artist, Steven Pippin. Artists in the collection include Terry Frost, Howard Hodgkin, Gwen and Augustus John, Maggi Hambling, Ivon Hitchens, Christopher Le Brun and Lisa Milroy. There is also a significant collection of studio pottery, with works by David Leach, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper among others.
Archaeology, Archives, Coins and Medals, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Music, Social History
Paper: Drawings, prints and works on paper from the Swindon Collection
- 14 November 2017 — 14 April 2018 *on now
This exhibition features drawings, watercolours and prints by modern and contemporary artists and demonstrates the huge range of effects that can be created using paper and imagination. The exhibition celebrates the recent Meryl Ainslie Gift donation – a group of more than 50 works on paper given anonymously to Swindon in 2017 in appreciation of Meryl Ainslie’s services to the Arts. Meryl Ainslie MA is founder of Rabley Drawing Centre, a gallery and drawing school located near Marlborough which specialises in drawings, works on paper and original prints. She worked at Swindon School of Art between 1993 and 2004 and was instrumental in the development and delivery of the successful higher education programme in Fine Art Drawing.
The exhibition features works by Allen Jones, Nicholas Monro, Michael Ayrton, Basil Beattie and Katherine Jones. These are displayed alongside prints by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Eduardo Paolozzi and Cecil Collins, and drawings by George Clausen, Gwen John and Augustus John.
- Any age
Pioneers: Highlights from the Swindon Collection of Studio Ceramics
- 28 November 2017 — 14 April 2018 *on now
Bringing together the most significant modern and contemporary ceramic artists in our collection, it highlights the diversity and excitement of ceramics.
Beginning with Bernard Leach and his role as the father of British studio ceramics, the exhibition features Lucy Rie, Hans Coper and Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie. Complex and experimental ceramic sculpture by Gordon Baldwin, Grant Aston and Sara Radstone will sit alongside exquisite porcelain and bone china from Sasha Wardell, Edmund de Waal and Fenella Elms.
Pioneers also celebrates the donors and collectors who helped establish Swindon’s collection of ceramics and continue to help it grow.
The Euston Road School: Radical Realism
- 31 January — 14 April 2018 *on now
They hoped to make modern art accessible to the general public, and were informed by their left-wing political views and dual roles as artists and art teachers. While the group was short lived, it was influential, continuing a trend of naturalism or social mindedness that can still be found in art today
This exhibition brings together a group of paintings by the artist Basil Rooke, on loan from his family. They are displayed alongside work by Lawrence Gowing and Duncan Grant, from Swindon’s own collection.
- Any age
Get Creative Festival – Create your own Still Life (FREE workshop)
- 24 March 2018 10am-4pm
From 17-25 March 2018, the Get Creative Festival encourages everyone to try their hand at something new and creative at free workshops across the country.
Grown from a one-day event in 2016, to a weekend in 2017, Get Creative returns in 2018 as a nine-day festival with arts organisations big and small being encouraged to put on workshops and taster sessions aimed at inspiring and celebrating everyday creativity.
Gowing - Apples IIInspired by our current exhibition – The Euston Road School – how about having a go at creating your own still life drawing, collage or photograph at our free family drop-in workshop. The gallery will have still lifes’ set up, as well as an atmospheric 1930s ambience, to help inspire you!
Materials and instructions will be available for you to create your 1930s still life drawing or photograph to treasure.
For more on the Get Creative festival, click here.
- Any age
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery