Bath is well known for its culture and history, and the 17 museums and galleries in the city are testament to that. Whether you are interested in fashion, or prefer an astronomical theme, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Bath. The range of central hotels in Bath (for example this one just near the Roman Baths) means it’s easy to visit the city and stay within easy reach of all the top attractions.
The Holburne Museum
The Holburne Museum was Bath’s first public art gallery and is housed in a beautiful grade I listed building, which was extensively refurbished in 2011. The museum was originally founded around the art collection of Sir William Holburne. It boasts an impressive assemblage of over 4,000 articles, including an eclectic mix of portraits, Chinese porcelain, and artefacts from the Roman era to name just a few. In 1955, William Holburne’s collection was greatly enhanced by the acquisition of work by Gainsborough, Turner and Stubbs. The museum offers a wide array of things to explore and enjoy, and to top it off there is a delightful garden café that opens out into the museum’s park, serving delicious lunches, cakes and other refreshments.
You don’t need to be a follower of fashion to enjoy the spectacular collections displayed at the Fashion Museum. The museum houses over 30,000 items of clothing, including every possible type of fashion you could care to imagine. There are embroidered shirts and gloves from the 1600s, right through to the modern day “Dress of the Year” ensembles. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, there are also dressing up activities for children and adults, where you can have your breathe squeezed out of you by waist-cinching corsets, or don a reproduction Victorian outfit. The museum offers a fun and interactive day out for the whole family.
The Jane Austen Centre
The centre celebrates the life of one of Bath’s most famous residents, the acclaimed 19th century author, Jane Austen. Offering a snap-shot of what life was like during the Regency period, the centre highlights how the town affected Jane Austen’s life, and specifically her writing. The museum provides the visitor with an authentic atmosphere, offering period costumes and guided tours. There is also a Regency themed tea room where a pot of loose leaf tea and home-made scones is not to be missed.
Herschel Museum of Astronomy
The Herschel museum was the home of Sir Frederick William Herschel, a German-born astronomer and composer. Herschel is credited with first identifying Uranus, and did so with a telescope crafted by his own hands while living in the house. The museum exhibits a unique example of a somewhat modest house from the Georgian era, and pays homage to Herschel’s astronomical discoveries, including a replica of the famous telescope. The Star Vault features an award-winning film, which takes the intrepid visitor on a journey through the universe; at the same time, bringing the house, and its history, to life.
Museum of Bath at Work
This museum offers an amalgamation of two thousand years of history, reflecting on the working life of Bath. Spanning the Roman era right through to modern technology, and stopping off along the way to look in on some Victorian engineering, the museum covers the integral working history of Bath. Displays include a 19th Century drinks factory, a 1914 Horstmann car, and a reconstructed Bath stone mine.
Victoria Art Gallery
The art gallery is the second most visited gallery in bath, with over 117,000 visitors every year. The gallery was opened in 1900 and offers collections that range from the 15th Century right up to the present day, including the works of Turner and Gainsborough. The gallery has recently received a grant to purchase its first oil painting by William Scott RA, an acclaimed artist with close ties to the area of Bath. The gallery is also home to an impressive collection of 110 scent bottles, consisting of a spectacular array of coloured glass.
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