Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
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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.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery

Opening hours

Tuesday - Saturdays
10am - 5pm

Closed: Sun, Mon and Bank Holidays

Admission charges

Admission free
Some workshops and talks incure a fee

Additional info

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.

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Coins and Medals, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Music, Social History

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
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The Phelps Bequest

  • 25 April — 1 September 2018

They include drawings, watercolours and paintings by some of the most popular artists of the early 20th century including Lord Methuen, Claude Francis Barry and John Skeaping.

Phelps also helped establish the museum’s purchase fund, which continues to support new acquisitions to this day. This exhibition pays tribute to his foresight and generosity.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

FREE

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An Uneasy Peace: British Art between the Wars

  • 25 April — 1 September 2018

This exhibition explores the British art movements that flourished between the wars, including the Camden Town Group, St Ives and the Bloomsbury Group.
During World War I, many artist-led groups developed, which allowed young British artists to explore new techniques and ideas. These groups continued in the interwar period, and their work captured both the sense of possibility and uncertainty that characterised the time.

The exhibition brings together important paintings by Ben Nicholson, Edward Wadsworth, Julian Trevelyan and Sylvia Gosse. It includes drawings and watercolours by Henry Moore, Augustus John and David Bomberg. As well as exploring the different art movements of the First World War and interwar years, it also looks at the contrasts and connections that existed between these influential artists.

The exhibition features work by two Swindon-born artists: Leslie Cole and Hubert Cook.
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 5pm

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

FREE

Website

http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk

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Timeless Secrets – Ceramic Artists in Their Own Words

  • 25 April — 1 September 2018

But it is more than that. Accompanying these art-works are comments made by the artists themselves. Over the years some ceramicists have spoken extensively about their work, while others have remained silent, letting their work speak for itself.

This exhibition is guest curated by the ceramics collector and writer Mike Yates, and features work by Walter Keeler, Mo Jupp, Bernard Leach, Ray Finch, Jennifer Lee and Lucie Rie

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Admission

FREE

Website

http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk

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.
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Free lunchtime talk:

  • 11 May 2018 12:30-1pm

Florestan is one of the most important abstract paintings in the collection of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. Following the sad news of Gillian Ayres’ death in April 2018, we will be revisiting this work of art in a special lunchtime talk. Come along and see the painting up close, to learn more about Ayres’ ground-breaking career and some of the unique properties of abstract art.

Lunchtime talks are free, commence at 12.30pm and last for approximately 30 minutes.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

FREE

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Bath Road
Old Town
Swindon
Wiltshire
SN1 4BA
England

Website

www.swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk

E-mail

SMAG@swindon.gov.uk

Telephone

01793 466556

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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