On-line action

The Head of Heritage Service for B&NES, Stephen Bird, took to the web with an update on the continued closures of the Victoria Art Gallery and Fashion Museum. Here it is in full.

‘While we reopened the doors to the Roman Baths earlier this month, we’ve sadly had to keep the doors shut at the Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery. We know it’s hugely disappointing that you won’t be able to visit us until 29th March 2021, but we hope you can understand. Considerable financial pressures caused by the pandemic, as well as challenges of operating physical distancing guidelines on both sites, made it unfeasible for us to open right now.

stephen bird
Stephen Bird who is Head of Heritage Services for B&NES

The Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery underpin the strong heritage foundation part of the local community – the thriving creative and cultural identity that we all know and love in Bath. It’s been a difficult time for all the Heritage Service teams, but the temporary hiatus on our live exhibitions and displays has merely sparked further determination and ambitions. While these two much-loved sites are closed in the meantime, they will by no means remain silent.

We can promise you some very exciting things on the horizon. We’ll be bringing more of our magnificent collections to life online! We’re also working towards a small number of potential in-gallery offers such as talks and receptions in-person – watch this space. But it’s not just about us sharing our collections with you. We want to get you involved too! There will be plenty of opportunities to be creative and to participate.

At the Fashion Museum, Rosemary Harden and her team continue to work from home and care for the collections on-site once a week. Hampered by lockdown, we had to postpone the launch of our Shoephoria display– but we’re pleased to say this will be waiting for you next year.


Meanwhile, you can look forward to seeing more of our fabulous collection of contemporary and historic dress online via social media, as well as brand new collection galleries on our website. We’ll be starting off with a gallery of highlights from our Lace and Whitework collection. You can still expect to be dazzled by Dress of The Year 2020 which we’ll be unveiling in November and as always, our collection is continuing to impress in wider fashion circles. We’re delighted to be lending one of our dresses for the local upcoming Fashion and Fairytale event at The Assembly Rooms in August.

At the Victoria Art Gallery, we were so disappointed that our blockbuster Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Montmartre came to a premature end. And despite best efforts to extend the show, the artwork was shipped to another museum in Sweden. We’ve even asked if it can return at a later date but at the moment this doesn’t look possible.


But we’ve been heartened by the overwhelming response to our online Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition – a token way for us to be able to share some of the sensational art of the period with you. Meanwhile, Jon Benington and his team have been busy amending exhibition programmes to ensure we bring you a much-needed and long-awaited arts recharge in 2021.

We’ll be kickstarting our fantastic programme next year with Kurt Jackson and his Biodiversity exhibition in March. And the hotly anticipated delayed Myths and Monsters exhibition, a sequel to the popular Here be Dragons in 2017, will be coming to the gallery in October.

It’s been an exceptionally difficult time for arts and heritage generally – and particularly at a time when we need our creative industries the most.  But we’ll continue to bring you a little creative inspiration and respite. Thank you for your ongoing support. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back when we do open our doors again on Monday 29th March 2021.’