Whilst it’s been a while since anyone has been able to enjoy the history of museums and creativity of art galleries, some of our writers have written up their favourites. Summertime is of course the ideal season for a day out and the perfect time to catch some exhibitions that will no doubt spark inspiration after visiting.
The Towner, Eastbourne
Unless you are a fan of Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging, or beachy head, you are unlikely to have heard of Eastbourne. But for us locals and regular tourists, The Towner Art Gallery is certainly a highlight of this seaside town. Their displays are always captivating, often unusual, and never cease to amaze: from their illuminated display of various sporty figures, to the interactive exhibits featuring never-ending mirrored floors, and strange sounds. They also host regular exhibits featuring the art of local school children or artists, and have interactive sessions where you can watch artists working, or have a self-portrait sketched up. It is both a source of inspiration and escapism, all in the perfect walking distance from the beach.
If you’re after an artsy summer trip, even upon first-look of The Towner you won’t be disappointed. And, as few will know, Eastbourne is titled the ‘Sunshine Coast’ of England – so what better place than this for a summer art gallery visit? Additionally, The Towner has a small cinema that shows both unknown and popular films. But most importantly, they have a wonderful cafe filled with numerous yummy treats, fulfilling a quintessential component of all art gallery trips. So, when you’re planning your next summer trip, be sure to put The Towner at the top of your list, otherwise known as the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020.
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Deep in the heart of the picturesque streets of Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum stands proud as the world’s second ‘university museum’ that receives hundreds of thousands visitors yearly. As a museum of both art and archeology there is a number of art collections to browse and an abundance of historical stories to immerse yourself in.
If you’re looking for something to do next summer (or any time of year) then look no further than the monumental building that boasts works from Egypt, Greece, and artists including Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and many more. It even houses some unique items, such as the death mask of Oliver Cromwell and the lantern Guy Fawkes carried during the Gunpower Plot – amongst many more incredible pieces of history.
Sarehole Mill, Birmingham
Not every museum is a neo-classical building constructed in the Georgian or Victorian era, dominating skylines. Some, like Sarehole Mill in Birmingham, have a more humble approach to history. A Grade II listed watermill, Sarehole is part of the wider Birmingham Museums Trust which includes the Thinktank science museum and the city’s Museum and Art Gallery. All of which hold a strong history for the city, but it’s the literary significance which gives it notoriety.
Sarehole inspired some of the locations in Hobbiton, as featured in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In fact, the entire location has been turned into a Tolkien-themed exhibit with even a “This way to Middle-Earth” sign, a character-quiz around the site and a working bakery for all your second breakfast needs.
Being originally from the West Midlands, the opportunity to visit was a wonderful one, and it’s heartwarming to remember that there is still this small part of The Shire sitting hidden amidst a major metropolitan city.