Cheltenham Art Gallery Museum on Clarence Street, Cheltenham is a great, free attraction that is open all year round. It houses a variety of artefacts and different collections from a wide spectrum of historical periods, ranging from ancient civilisations to modern life in the twentieth century.

The building was opened in 1899 as an art gallery, following a donation of 43 important paintings and £1000 from the third Baron de Ferrieres who was a former mayor and MP for Cheltenham. The museum was then opened in 1907 and since then has become home to an increasing number of quality collections, many of which have been donated by local people. In 1989, HRH The Princess Royal opened an extension to the Art Gallery and Museum, which resulted in a real increase in visitor facilities and space for new collections.

The collections range from those depicting local history, such as the history of Cheltenham and aspects of life and the landscapes of Gloucestershire, to Ancient History collections, including Neolithic flint tools, Roman Britain household objects, Iron Age currency bars for trading and the foot of an Egyptian mummy. There is also a twentieth-century gallery showing, among other artefacts, labour-saving devices that were brought about by advances in technology in the twentieth century and that changed the ways in which British household tasks were carried out. The Summerfield Galleries also show how we used to live in other past centuries. The displays here include paintings, furniture and objects from everyday use – from coins to candlesticks.

Other displays show artefacts from the achievements of explorers, such as local man Edward Wilson, who achieved Antarctic expedition success but sadly died on his way back from the South Pole in 1912. There is a showcase of exotic birds brought back from Australia by early explorer, Charles Sturt and an oriental gallery showing Chinese pottery and costume from visits to China by another local explorer, Mr. Berkeley Smith.

The galleries display pictures and sculptures spanning five centuries from the Renaissance to the present day. The Arts and Crafts Gallery shows exhibits from Arts and Crafts Movement of the 1880s, a movement that started as a reaction against the effects that the Industrial Revolution had on design, the environment and people’s working lives. Exhibits include internationally important collections of craft.

Finally, guided tours at the museum and lectures on the collections may be booked in advance. There is also a museum café where coffee and light lunches may be purchased.

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