gift of philanthropist and tobacco tycoon Sir William H. Wills,
the building was intended as a statement of civic pride to
compete with other major cities such as Birmingham and Manchester,
hence the imposing frontage complete with carriage entrance.
Built at an estimated cost of £40,000, it was extended
rearwards in the 1930s, at an additional cost of £98,337
the museum houses an impressive array of local and national
treasures - so many in fact that they cannot all be displayed
at one time.
quality and significance of the collection is such that the
museum is one of the few to have been awarded Designated status.
building was designed as a statement of civic pride
museum's permanent exhibitions are arranged over two floors,
although the buidling's unusual split-level layout gives the
impression of three floors.
wide, galleried entrance hall is dominated by a life-sized
replica of a Bristol Boxkite aeroplane, suspended from the
Manufactured in Bristol in the early 1900s, the replica is
one of the original three used in the 1963 film Those Magnificent
Men in Their Flying Machines.
the Gorilla, another famous and much-loved local exhibit,
can also be found in here.
When he died in 1948 he was stuffed and put on display in the
museum, where he continues to entertain visitors.
Captured in Africa in the 1930s he was brought to Bristol
Zoo, where he rapidly captured local hearts with his character
the Gorilla 1930 - 1948
art exhibition on the top floor includes a wide range of paintings
and sculptures from old masters to modern art, with a display
of decorative arts in adjoining galleries.
lower floors contain a glittering collection of minerals,
ancient fossils and a large archaeology gallery.
Close by is the world wildlife gallery containing many examples
of endangered or extinct animals.
Here, you will also find the immensely popular Egyptology
gallery with its real mummies and the impressive Assyrian
Relief which is over 3,000 years old.
permanent exhibitions are complemented with a programme of
temporary exhibitions and a full programme of free public
events to suit all ages.
Check out the website
for a list of school holiday activities and seasonal events.
museum is open every day of the year except Christmas Day
and Boxing Day.
chance to look inside an authentic Romany caravan
hours are 10am - 5pm and entry
to the museum is completely free to everyone.
access is currently available from the entrance in University
Road, but new facilities in the main entrance on Queens Road
were due to open in spring 2004.
There is full wheelchair and lift access throughout the building.
The museum has its own gift shop. In addition to a range of
books, cards, ceramics and novelty gifts, the shop also stocks
locally produced Bristol Blue Glass.
independently-owned cafe, situated at the rear of the museum,
is rapidly gaining its own reputation as a trendy, relaxing
Visitors will find snacks, hot food and drinks on offer.
Blue Glass has been made in the city for centuries
museum is a 15 minute stroll from the city centre and bus
Follow Park Street from the centre and you will find the museum
located at the top on the right, next to the Wills Memorial
of the following bus services will take you to the museum
users should leave the M5 at junction 18 or 19 and follow
signs for the city centre.
If approaching from the M4, exit at junction 19 and follow
the signs for M32 and city centre. Follow the brown visitor
signs for the city museum.
nearest public car park, West End NCP in Jacobs Wells Road,
is a five-minute walk to the museum. Limited meter parking
is available in the surrounding area.