Ten coastal galleries and museums

Published 9 February 2016

We Brits do like to be beside the seaside. However, the UK coast isn't just about beach cricket, soggy sandwiches and sandcastle competitions – see some great art too.


Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Located in the Royal Pavilion's garden, this is an unmissable cultural stop. From Dalí's Mae West's lips sofa to ancient Egyptian artefacts, the eclectic gallery is a treasure trove of interesting objects that span several millennia. You can also get to know the history and culture of this iconic seaside town through an array of films, images and local ephemera.

Turner Contemporary, Margate

Turner Contemporary

The rooms are suffused with the same light that mesmerised Turner when he visited Margate in the 1820s, staying at Mrs Booth's guesthouse which stood on the site. As its name suggests, the museum bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary art. The cafe's afternoon tea comes highly recommended.


Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden

The museum includes the studio where Barbara Hepworth, one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century, lived and worked. The studio and garden are very much like they were during Hepworth’s time there. On display are the tools she loved to use: her chisels and hammers, as well as her white work apron and a very varied selection of works – testament to her originality and relentless hard work.

Towner Eastbourne


The award-winning gallery has around 4,500 works of art by historic, modern and contemporary artists including Pablo Picasso, Grayson Perry and Henry Moore. If you enjoy watercolours, then you will appreciate the broad and significant body of works by Eric Ravilious that is housed here.


Mostyn Gallery

Wales's leading contemporary museum is set in the beautiful seaside town of Llandudno where old and new buildings have been merged into one harmonious design by architect Dominic Williams. Although it has no permanent collection, the venue's five main galleries aim to showcase the best contemporary art produced in Wales and also bring the best of international art to the country. As a result, Mostyn Gallery caters to the naturally adventurous and inquisitive.


Penrhyn Castle

Let your imagination wander in this spellbinding 19th-century castle. Built for the affluent Pennant family, it is bursting with masterpieces. Among the maze of richly decorated rooms, find the one-ton slate bed made for Queen Victoria or spot works by the likes of Rembrandt and Canaletto.


The Historic Dockyard Chatham

A favourite with maritime lovers, the museum guides you through the dockyard's fascinating history from the Spanish Armada to the Falklands War. For centuries the site was one of the main facilities of the Royal Navy until it closed in 1984. Today the Historic Dockyard is believed to be the world's most complete dockyard of the Age of Sail.


Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum

Perched on a cliff above Bournemouth, this exotic seaside villa is a time capsule of late Victorian taste. The lavishly decorated house and gallery was a birthday present from Merton Russell-Cotes to his wife Annie in 1901, and it is stuffed full of objects the couple collected on their travels around the world. The walls are lined with their remarkable collection of British art, including Pre-Raphaelite canvases.

Penlee House

Penlee House Gallery and Museum

Take a break from the surfing and soak up some Cornish artistic heritage at Penlee House and Gardens. You can feast your eyes on works by painters of the Newlyn School – the colony of artists who worked in the area from the 1880s to the 1930s. This included Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes, Walter Langley, Harold Harvey and Laura Knight


Walker Art Gallery

Nicknamed the 'National Gallery of the north', the Walker is the home to one of the best collections of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art in the country. If you are inclined towards the occasional seaside tipple, this is the perfect place to offset it with some culture. The gallery came to fruition following a donation from the brewer and alderman Andrew Walker in 1873. He wasn't a patron or a collector of art and so it is believed that the move was made to raise the public profile of brewing and alcohol during the temperance movement.

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