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Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth

An extravagant Victorian cliff-top villa turned museum and art gallery packed with British art, sculptures and fascinating artefacts from around the world.

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The Victorian hotelier Sir Merton Russell-Cotes built this extravagant cliff-top villa as a birthday pressie for his wife Lady Annie. Together they filled it with art, sculpture and loads of fascinating artefacts from their travels around the world.

Built around 1901, the house, East Cliff Hall, is a combo of styles – Moorish, Japanese and French – alongside contemporary Victorian design. The art collections inside are equally eclectic.

Russell-Cotes bought artworks to demonstrate his artistic connoisseurship and patronage of the arts and regularly bought and sold paintings from artists and dealers. His taste was conservative – there’s no Impressionism, avant garde or abstract stuff here.

The house and contents were given to the people of Bournemouth in 1903 and it was opened as museum in 1922, and the collection continued to grow. Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s famous Venus Verticordia (above) is worth a visit alone.

Four permanent art galleries, touring exhibitions, lovely gardens with a Victorian stone grotto, Japanese garden with goldfish ponds, bridges and fountain – and a cafe.

Currently, the garden, outdoor café and gift shop are open Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 4pm. The gallery and museum will be open Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm from Mon 17 May.


This month in dorset

East Cliff Promenade, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 3AA
01202 128000

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