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.
Nicholas Monro, b.1936   –   Igloos, 1970   –   Screenprint, Artist’s Proof from an edition of 75

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.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Pioneers

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.

Website

http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk/event/pioneers-highlights-from-the-swindon-collection-of-studio-ceramics/

Winslow Collection

Face the Music: the Winslow Collection of Instruments

  • 10 January — 3 March 2018 *on now

The collection included historic and modern instruments from Britain and the rest of the world.

This exhibition explores the skill and artistry of musical instruments, while reflecting on why they were so important to Swindon Museum and Art gallery in its first decades.

The instruments will be displayed alongside an unusual collection of photographs, taken by museum curator Charles Gore in 1930. They show the instruments, along with other items from the museum’s first collections.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Gowing Apples II

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.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Small Victories

  • 15 February — 17 March 2018 *on now

As well as seeing the objects that were used in their storytelling shows, you can also make up your own characters from history and add them to the display.

Do come along and see this wonderful exhibition!

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

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.
Julian Trevelyan The Potteries

Take a Closer Look

  • 7 March 2018 12:30-1pm

What does this painting tell us about industry and development? What is the role of art in holding a mirror to society? What can this painting tell us about modern day Britain?

We will take this painting out of store to see what stories it can unlock and what it can teach us.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Sylvia Gosse The Printer

Take a Closer Look

  • 8 March 2018 12:30-1pm

What does this painting tell us about the status of women artists at the time and now, n the present day? Can we see Gosse’s experiences reflected in this painting? How has she been influenced by art from outside Britain?

We will take this painting out of store to see what stories it can unlock and what it can teach us.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Mark Gertler The Artists Sister, Deborah

Take a Closer Look

  • 9 March 2018 12:30-1pm

What does this painting tell us about Gertler’s life as a working-class Jewish artist? How does this painting reflect both his life and his aspirations for the future? What does it tell us about artistic outsiders?

We will take this painting out of store to see what stories it can unlock and what it can teach us.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

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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