The Holburne Museum of Art houses one of the finest collections of 18th century paintings and porcelain in Southwest England. Located in the Sydney Pleasure Gardens of Bath, Somerset, the museum is open 361 days of the year, with bargain admissions for visitors in every age group. Out of all the things to do in Bath, some of the most enriching activities for locals to explore can be found at the Holburne Museum of Art.
The Holburne Museum of Art has been in operation on Great Pulteney Street for close to a century. Its classic Bath stone structure, which originally functioned as the Sydney Hotel, was designed by 18th century architect Charles Harcourt Masters. Permanent collections at the museum include works by many 18th century painters, including English portraitist Thomas Gainsborough, German neoclassicist Johann Zoffany and Venetian landscapist Francesco Guardi. The Holburne collection was originated by 19th century collector Sir Thomas William Holburne, who amassed over 4000 pieces over the course of his life.
2012 has witnessed a series of incredible displays at the Holburne, which currently has an exhibit of portrait sculptures running through September 2. Titled Presence: the Art of Portrait Sculpture, the exhibit features works by artists spanning eons of time, from busts of Ancient Greece to pieces hailing from the 20th century. Notable works featured in this exhibit include the death mask of painter Thomas Lawrence, the self-portrait mask of Ron Mueck and two busts of the Earl of Chesterfield by Joseph Wilton. Curator Alexander Sturgis has published Presence: Sculpture and the Portrait, a new book designed to coincide with this exhibit.
The Holburne is dedicated to enriching the lives of all Bath residents young and old through various programs in the arts. To get local residents more involved in creative undertakings, the museum hosts various lectures, workshops and special projects. One of the museum’s most uplifting endeavours is the Holburne Association of Homeless Artists (HAHA), a program designed to engage homeless locals in assorted arts and crafts. Works by HAHA members have featured at the Gardeners Lodge, showing everyone that creativity can indeed stem from meager circumstances.
Creative workshops at the Holburne are geared for children, teenagers and adults, with many tours and exhibits tying into the curriculum of local secondary schools. Children of the nearby primary schools are given craft projects to help them develop broader understandings of various art forms, while sessions on practical art are offered to local professionals. Families are brought together through the Art for All program, which has been especially designed to get parents and children engaged in art together.
In addition to all these beautiful sights and learning opportunities, the Holburne holds sporadic musical events. This summer is shaping up to be a fine one for lovers of jazz and chamber music at the Sydney Pleasure Gardens, with performances by The Sulis Wind Trio, Three Ways Trio and the Early Opera Orchestra. Head on down with your family or friends to experience art and culture at the Holburne.