Celebrations of city’s culture at the double 

THE Duke and Duchess of Gloucester paid a visit to Bristol to mark two important anniversaries: Bristol 650 and the Bicentenary of Bristol Museums.

This year marks 650 years since King Edward III granted important rights and privileges to Bristol by royal charter in 1373.

The museum is celebrating 200 years since the Bristol Institution for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts its doors at 31 Park Street.

The Duke and Duchess viewed a new exhibition, Opulent Origins: 200 Years of Displaying Fine Art, which reimagines exhibitions hosted by Bristol Museum in the 1820s.

They were also guided around other exhibitions that demonstrate the breadth of the museum’s offer.

Bristol residents, artists and supporters of the museum were invited to meet the royal guests, who were also treated to a short dance performance by the South Gloucestershire Chinese Association.

Lord Lieutenant Peaches Golding said: “It was an honour to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Bristol and to have the opportunity to share the rich history of our glorious city and county.”

Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Paul Goggin, said: “This year marks two important moments in the city’s history that have helped shaped the Bristol we know today. The depth of the city’s history is demonstrated in the 650 year anniversary of receiving our royal charter from King Edward III, whilst the bicentenary of the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery reminds us of our commitment as a city to acknowledge and learn from the past.”

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Finance, Performance, Governance and Culture, said: “Our vibrant programme of exhibitions and events demonstrate the broad range of experiences the museum and art gallery offers visitors. This work is made possible thanks to the many vital contributions the museum receives from local people of all ages, universities and our many supporters, and it was a pleasure to offer the opportunity for Their Royal Highnesses to share today’s visit with them.” The original museum, built in 1823 on 31 Park Street, showed natural history, geological specimens and cultural artefacts from all over the world, as well as art exhibitions.

A year later, in 1824, the Institution’s Sub Committee for the Fine Arts was formed. On June 19 their first exhibition, ‘Pictures by Old Masters’ was opened, costing one shilling (around £5 today) for a single entry. The Sub-Committee would come to organise at least six fine art exhibitions between 1824 and 1831.

Today’s Bristol Museum & Art Gallery was built in 1905 to display the growing collection, particularly art and antiquities. 

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is one of the most popular attractions in the region and welcomes over 400,000 visitors annually. The museum is free to enter and open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.