When you’re planning a visit to Bath, you’ll want to visit some of its many museums. There are the museums and galleries that you might expect, a few more unusual, and a surprising number of small museums… Here are some of the most important museums of Bath.
The Roman Baths Museum
The Roman Baths, where 18th century visitors took the waters, are a reminder of the city’s importance long before fashionable visitors started to arrive in the Georgian era. The museum attached to the baths is an extensive exploration of the Roman city, including bathing areas, temples and artefacts recovered during archaeological excavations.
Art Museums In Bath
Victoria Art Gallery
Art lovers should start with the Victoria Art Gallery, housed in a purpose-built Victorian building beside the Pulteney Bridge. It contains more than 1,500 artworks, with an extensive British collection including paintings by Thomas Gainsborough and Walter Sickert.
The Holburne Museum is the oldest museum in Bath. It is home to a private collection with 18th century art and artefacts, and much more. There is a regular programme of special exhibitions.
Museums Of Georgian Bath
Jane Austen Centre
Jane Austen, who briefly lived in Bath and featured the city in her novels, is one of the city’s most famous figures. The Jane Austen Centre, in a house with period furnishings on Gay Street, is devoted to her life and work. Visit to get an understanding of how Bath influenced her writings, before exploring some of the places frequented by her heroes and heroines.
Read more about the Jane Austen Centre and the places associated with her books – Where To Find Jane Austen In Bath.
Assembly Rooms And Fashion Museum
The Assembly Rooms were a popular meeting place in Jane Austen’s time, and are still used for events today. You can look around the rooms themselves before visiting the Fashion Museum in the basement. Here you can see how people (mostly the upper classes) dressed through the ages.
No 1 Royal Crescent, Georgian Garden And The Pump Room
To get an idea of how high society lived in Georgian times pay a visit to No 1 Royal Crescent. This is a house that has been furnished and decorated as it might have been in the 18th century.
Of course, gardens were an important part of domestic architecture, and you can also walk around the Georgian Garden at the rear of No 4 The Circus.
The Pump Room, beside the Roman Baths, is not exactly a museum, but it can certainly give you a flavour of Georgian Bath. This was where fashionable people once came to drink the spa water – today you can stop for lunch or afternoon tea, and you can even try a glass of the water for yourself.
Specialist Museums Of Bath
There are numerous small and specialist museums in Bath.
American Museum And Gardens
Around 5 km from the city centre is the American Museum and Gardens. This showcases American history and folk art (including lots of lovely quilts), and the gardens have spectacular views.
Old Theatre Royal and Masonic Hall
One of my favourites has to be the rather quirky Old Theatre Royal and Masonic Hall. This is a former theatre that became a chapel and burial place before becoming a masonic lodge. It is still a masonic hall today, but it is also a museum – the building itself being the main exhibit!
Read more – Old Theatre Royal And Masonic Hall.
Museum Of Bath Architecture
So far as architecture is concerned, you could almost regard the city itself as a sort of outdoor museum! But once you are ready to learn more, the Museum of Bath Architecture is an excellent exploration of the design and construction of Georgian buildings. (Note that as at March 2022 the museum is closed: it is hoped it will reopen before too long.)
Museum Of East Asian Art
The Museum of East Asian Art is a small, family-friendly, collection of artefacts spanning 7,000 years.
The Herschel Museum of Astronomy was the home of William Herschel and his sister Caroline, and it was here that William first observed the planet Uranus. The museum is devoted to the Herschels’ work, both astronomical and musical.
Museum Of Bath At Work
Finally, there is the very interesting Museum of Bath at Work. Housed in a former real tennis court that later became a factory, it has all sorts of exhibits about local industry, people and more…
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