No visit to Bath would be complete without viewing the masterpieces that hang in the Holburne Museum. Set in the city’s charming Sydney Pleasure Gardens, this was Bath’s first ever public art gallery, and it sits within a gorgeous Grade I listed building. The original collection was built by Sir William Holburne, but it has been added to over the years since becoming a public treasure, and you’ll find anything from antique books to Gainsborough’s within the museum’s halls.
Your approach to the Holburne Museum will be almost as stunning as the works that you will find inside. The building’s impressive grand façade and gardens speak of its storied history and grandeur. The original collection of Sir William contained over 4,000 objects, pictures, and books, and was bequeathed to the people of Bath by his sister, Mary Anne Barbara Holburne. Since being opened to the public, a huge range of further objects have been added.
The top floor is where most visitors will head first. It is here that you will be able to view pieces from the Golden Age of British painting. Both William Hoare and Thomas Gainsborough lived in Bath, so you’ll find examples of their work all across Holburne, with further canvases from masters such as Zoffany, Ramsay, and Stubbs.
Cross to the next part of the museum to find Sir William’s personal collection. Golden-Age Dutch works, portrait miniatures, and gems can be found within these rooms, as well as porcelains, paintings, and sculptures drawn from across the world. Wander into the building’s authentic ballroom to find the silver and china laid out just as it would have been for a banquet thrown for the cream of 17th and 18th-century society. Remember to cast your eyes skyward to take in the priceless crystal chandelier suspended above.
When you’re finished with the works of art inside, rest your feet and grab something to eat and drink at the Garden Café. It opens onto views of the historic Sydney Gardens, and prides itself on finding fresh seasonal food from throughout the surrounding area. Although if you did want to wander further afield there are a number of must-visit places to have afternoon tea or a spot of lunch; some of these include No.15 Great Pulteney, Bath Abbey Hotel and the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.
Bath is visited by millions of people from around the world each and every year and that’s for good reason – there is so much to do and see. When stopping near or in Bath, do make sure you visit the Holburne Museum.