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
Pioneers: Highlights from the Swindon Collection of Studio Ceramics
- 28 November 2017 — 10 March 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.
Janet Boulton: Watercolours
- 29 November 2017 — 20 January 2018 *on now
This exhibition celebrates her works on paper and will include paintings inspired by music, still life and gardens.
Boulton was born in Swindon. After art school, she returned to the town and worked as an art teacher at Swindon College, Commonweal and Hreod Parkway. In 1977, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery hosted her exhibition, ‘Windows and Reflections’, inspired by her views from classrooms in the town. Since the late 1970s, she has worked at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta, the Villa La Pietra, and the Garden Museum. Her work is in public and private collections in the UK and abroad.
This exhibition is a welcome return to Swindon from this important artist. It celebrates both her innovative use of watercolour and her engagement with nature, beauty, architecture and music.
Swindon Museum & Art Gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11.00am to 3.00pm. During Swindon School Holidays, we will be open from 10.00am to 3.00pm. We are open for school and group visits on Monday & Tuesday and at other times by appointment.
- Family friendly
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery