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.
Open from 10am during school holidays
Closed: Sun, Mon, Tue
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
Going to Town: Scenes of Urban Life
- 30 September 2015 — 12 March 2016 *on now
From LS Lowry to Swindon artist Walter Poole, urban life and landscapes inspired many modern artists.
This exhibition features interiors, townscapes, factories and ruins depicted by modern British artists. It includes work by Robert Bevan, John Nash, Leon Kossoff and Sylvia Gosse.
- Family friendly
100Stories: exploring Swindon’s WW1 past
- 18 November 2015 — 20 February 2016 *on now
100Stories is a series of original films and photographs that were produced in response to 60 young Swindon people exploring rich regional WW1 resources.
You can see a short film documentary about Oakfields visit to the War cemeteries in France and Belgium, photographs from Dorcan Academy in response to Mary Slade’s POW letters, as well as short drama films each featuring a different aspect of the WWI experience, all mentored by the award-winning Create Studios.
100Stories is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots Programme, Project Partners: Create Studios, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, Swindon Libraries, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.
A Weather Eye: Light and Landscape
- 30 March — 16 July 2016
The exhibition celebrates light, landscape and the weather through a series of stunning modern British art works.
Featuring David Bomberg, Mary Fedden, Roger Fry and CRW Nevinson. The exhibition features a group of landscape paintings by Swindon artist Roy Bizley.
- Family friendly
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery