Samuel Joshua Cooper was the son of a wealthy local businessman who undertook the Grand Tour.
He brought back many fine examples of art which formed the basis of the permanent collection. This now contains over 400 works from a wide range of artists, from John Sell Cotman and JMW Turner to the Bloomsbury Group's Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It is from these permanent collections that themed exhibitions are created to hang alongside an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions. A new extension will open in spring 2016.