About The Wilson
Welcome to The Wilson, Gloucestershire’s premier art gallery and museum. We’re part of The Cheltenham Trust, a charity (No. 1158606) dedicated to enriching the lives of residents and visitors through art, culture, heritage, sport, play and performance.
The Wilson houses an internationally significant museum collection of exceptional quality and variety, changing displays of our Designated Arts and Crafts Movement collection and fine art collections. We’re home to The Open Archive, which houses our fascinating archives relating to Antarctic explorer Edward A. Wilson, Cheltenham’s history and the Emery Walker Library.
From 43 paintings to a brand new World of Wonders! Gallery, we’ve grown a lot over the years.
If you want to be part of our next phase, find out more about supporting us.
Explore our journey to date…
In 1898 the third Baron de Ferrieres, a former Mayor and MP for Cheltenham, gave 43 important paintings, mostly from Belgium and the Netherlands, to the town, together with £1000 towards the building of a gallery in which to house them. This was opened in 1899.
In 1905 the Schools of Art and Science left the premises they occupied next door to the Art Gallery, and the Museum was opened in these rooms two years later. From that time the collections grew in number and in quality, with the great majority generously given by the people of Cheltenham.
In 1975 a branch museum was opened in the birthplace of Gustav Holst, the composer, which was completely furnished from the collections. This became an independent museum in 2000.
In 1983 a museum was opened to display the costume collection in Cheltenham’s most important historic building, the Pittville Pump Room: this was closed in 1999.
The first real increase in space and visitor facilities came in 1989 when HRH The Princess Royal opened an extension to the Art Gallery & Museum. This is the building in which the main entrance is sited.
After a major new build Cheltenham art gallery and museum re-opened to the public on Saturday 5 October 2013.The renovation project also included a re-branding exercise The Wilson approved as the new name for the art gallery and museum.
The building was designed by architects Berman Guedes Stretton and includes four new floors which house a gallery dedicated to the art gallery and museum’s extensive fine art collection, space to discover more about local heroes, including the great Edward Wilson (one of Scott’s key men on his 1912 expedition to Antarctica), a re-interpreted Arts and Crafts gallery (showing the world-renowned designated collection), and two superb temporary exhibition galleries – for showing national and international touring shows, special highlights from the collections and fun shows for families.
The redevelopment also become the new home for the town’s tourism services – with the re-location of Cheltenham’s Tourist Information Centre to The Wilson – including the opening of a new ground floor café-bistro.
The Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen also have a new retail outlet, called the ‘Guild at 51’, selling and showing beautiful and contemporary crafts on the site.
May 2018: WOW! Gallery opens.
WORLD OF WONDERS! is a brand new gallery that has been made possible with generous funding of the DCMS/WOLFSON Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund 2016-18 and The Friends of The Wilson.
We’ve thrown open the doors to a previously long-closed museum space, dug objects out of our stores and breathed life into them for you and your fellow adventurers to discover.
We have worked with designers HKD and The Moule Partnership to explore our collection and bring you brand new stories in ways you’ve never seen before.
Edward Wilson was born in Cheltenham on 23 July 1872, the son of a local physician. His medical and scientific skills were matched only by his artistic talent.
2012 marked the centenary of the British Antarctic Expedition (more commonly known as the Terra Nova expedition) led by Captain Scott. The Polar party included Edward Wilson who came from Cheltenham.
Here at The Wilson you can discover lots about Edward Wilson. See objects used on his expeditions in our Edward Wilson gallery, and explore his incredible watercolors in our Open Archive.
ACE Museum Resilience project 2016-2018
In August 2016 The Wilson was awarded £273,416 from the Arts Council England Museum Resilience fund.
This 18-month project saw The Wilson test brand new creative approaches, create robust strategies and formed part of The Wilson’s wider ambition to work directly with audiences and produce collections-led displays and exhibitions.
de Ferrieres Community Gallery
The Monument and Summerfield Exhbition Gallery
Foyle Learning Centre