There’s nothing new about ensuring visitors to Bath are duly entertained – especially if they’ve come to ‘take the waters’ and came during a historical period when visiting meant not a couple of days but anything from three weeks to three months.
A new exhibition at the city’s Victoria Art Gallery is based around the story of entertainment in Bath – from the city’s Georgian heyday until the present day.
During the 18th century Bath was second only to London for the quality and variety of the music, art and theatre that were on offer. Although these and other high-minded activities were a vital part of Georgian Bath’s social scene, this was not the whole picture.
There was also a seedy side to the city. Gambling and prostitution were rife – and very much part of Bath’s appeal to those who came here for hedonistic reasons.
The exhibition looks at the events, activities and performances those former residents and visitors enjoyed. It also brings the story up to date, covering Bath International Music Festival, and infamous pop concerts and events that many local people will remember.
It gathers together the stories about the people, places and attractions that made Georgian Bath such a vibrant centre – with more recent manifestations like the Bath Festival that is to some extent a legacy from that time.
Entertainment in Bath celebrates the city’s cultural history with a huge variety of prints and watercolours from the Gallery’s own collection – alongside loans from the Royal Collection and the National Portrait Gallery.
It has been curated by Katharine Wall who met Bath Newseum to tell us more.
Entertainment in Bath runs through to March 14th.
It includes special performances by Bath Spa University drama students who will be bringing ‘Entertainment in Bath’ to life Saturdays 10, 17 and 24 February and again on March 3rd. All from 12 pm to 2pm.