Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

Main Hall
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This Grade II* seaside villa is the former home of Sir Merton and Lady Annie Russell-Cotes, who designed it to house their art collection and objects from their world travels. It was gifted to the borough in 1908 and opened as a museum in 1922.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery, Historic house or home, Garden, parklands or rural site

Opening hours

Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 5pm
Bank Holiday Mondays 10am - 5pm

Closed: Mondays, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Admission charges

Charges Apply
Adult £7.50 (gift aid)
Child £4 (gift aid)
Under 5s free
See website for full price list


  • Museums Association
  • National Art Pass

One of the last Victorian houses built, East Cliff Hall incorporates an eclectic mix of Scottish, Italian and Moorish styles creating a unique atmosphere. The collection includes Victorian art and sculpture; artefacts from the Russell-Cotes' extensive world travels, including a dedicated Japanese gallery; a gallery devoted to the actor Henry Irving; an Edwin Longsden Long gallery; and changing temporary exhibitions showcasing modern art and items from the museum's store. Items not on display can be viewed by prior arrangement.

Collection details

Architecture, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Maritime, Personalities, Social History, World Cultures, Performing Arts

Key artists and exhibits

  • Japanese Art
  • Henry Irving
  • Rossetti
  • Venus Verticordia
  • Victorian Art
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Russell-Cotes Ceramics: Connoisseur or Conned?

  • 24 March — 26 August 2018 *on now

Genteel amateurs, rather than scholarly curators, the Russell-Cotes travelled through the Empire and Far East, picking up ceramic wares at bazaars, department shops, and antique stores. When in Bournemouth, they added to the ceramic collection via auction houses, and independent dealers.Like many contemporary Victorian middle-class ceramic enthusiasts, Merton and Annie collected eye-catching pieces which were intended to be displayed in the public show rooms of East Cliff Hall, adding to their self-identity as patrons of the arts.
Merton believed himself to be a self-taught connoisseur. As with his extensive art collection, he appears to have targeted high-status ceramic production factories including Sѐvres, Wedgwood, and Worcester. However, an academic survey of his ceramic collection has challenged our perception of his power of discernment, as several items are in fact reproductions, factory seconds, and fakes.
In this exhibition we invite you to put yourselves in the shoes of the expert, and see if you can spot the originals amongst the replicas.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


exhibition is included in admission price

Sunlight Nude

Making and Breaking the Rules: Royal Academy 250 at the Russell-Cotes

  • 5 May — 14 October 2018 *on now

Founder, Sir Merton Russell-Cotes gloried in the prestige and status of the Royal Academy and the entree it provided into its elite social world. When buying work he used it as a brand and guarantee of quality and value. But he also recognised its limitations and saw that many renowned artists – whether women or Pre-Raphaelites – were excluded from its membership, and made his own choices.This exhibition looks at the choices made and asks visitors, collectors, curators, as well as contemporary Royal Academicians, how to tread the path between establishment and the art that breaks the rules.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Exhibition is included in admission price


Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum
East Cliff Promenade




01202 451858

24 hour answer-phone

01202 451800


01202 451851

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.