A museum service encompassing fine art and local history came into being following Local Government reorganisation in 1974, when Isle of Wight County Council assumed responsibilities for museum provision. One of the first initiatives was to provide a small maritime museum, attached to the Cowes Public Library, which still operates today. Not unnaturally for a museum service based on an island, an art collection was developed which had a strong maritime bias.
The present collection is only very modest in numbers but a number of names and subjects stand out. Amongst the marine subjects are a fine series of large canvases by local artist Arthur Wellington Fowles; a number of oils attributed to Thomas Luny; and works by George Gregory. The greater strength in our fine art collections, however is in watercolours, which include a substantial numbers of sketches by Thomas Rowlandson, and a fine collection of nineteenth-century coastal scenes.
Not all locations are open to the public. Please contact the gallery or collection for more information.