The Academy was Bristol’s first art gallery, and its current artistic programme promotes work by its members as well as established artists from outside Bristol

In the mid 19th century a group of artists based in Bristol decided to set up the first art gallery in the city. With support from a bequest left by the painter Ellen Sharples, a fine building was erected on Queen Street in 1858.

Subsequently modified and enlarged, it is still the Academy's home. One of only five in the UK, it has a membership of 150 Academicians, and supports their work by including it in exhibitions and events.

But the Academy's interests extend far beyond Bristol. Recent exhibitions have included the work of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin as well as UK stalwarts such as Mary Fedden. The annual open exhibition receives entries from unknown, emerging and established artists and is now in its 160th year.

RWA (Royal West of England Academy)

Queen's Road, Bristol, Greater Bristol, BS8 1PX

01179 735129


Opening times

Join us in our transformed building from May 2022.

Reopening after major refurbishment on 2 May 2022. Facilities now include large new lift; expanded cafe; family-friendly activity space; changing places toilet facility; free-to-access spaces on all floors. Admission charged for major exhibitions; half price for Art Fund members and free for all under 21s and all students.

With a National Art Pass you get

50% off exhibitions

Ready to discover more? Choose your pass

Exhibitions and events at RWA (Royal West of England Academy)

Exhibitions nearby

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