This is a very special year for the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum as it marks 100 years since its official opening.
Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes, an extraordinary Victorian couple, have brought together in a beautiful home some fantastic works of art as well as artifacts from world cultures. They then gave it to the people of Bournemouth for their inspiration and enjoyment.
In 1901, Merton Russell-Cotes built his dream house on top of a cliff, overlooking the sea, which he then gave to his wife Annie on her birthday. It was an extraordinary and extravagant birthday present – lavish, splendid and with a touch of whimsy.
Together they filled this spectacular seaside villa with British art and beautiful objects collected from their travels around the world, creating a unique atmosphere in a spectacular setting. Then they sealed it in time and gave it to the future. The Russell-Cotes opened as an art gallery and museum in 1922.
The main hall houses a remarkable collection of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art. Other rooms in the house display memorabilia from the couple’s travels, with works from Russia, Australia, New Zealand and the world-renowned Japanese collection.
This year there will be a series of special events, including themed nocturnes, traveling exhibits, talks and workshops, and more. There will be music, dancing, tours, crafts and everything else you’d expect (and some don’t) from the Russell-Cotes.
Cllr Beverley Dunlop, Culture and Vibrant Places portfolio holder at BCP Council, said: “The Russell-Cotes is one of Bournemouth’s most iconic buildings, in a spectacular clifftop location. It houses an extraordinary collection of international significance and has played an important role in the cultural history of Bournemouth. He continues to be an inspiration to the townspeople, ensuring Bournemouth thrives as a vibrant cultural center for locals and visitors alike.
Museum Director Sarah Newman said: “Our visitors love Russell-Cotes and its extraordinary and enchanting atmosphere, which is so important to them for their sense of place and personal well-being, especially in these strange times. We hope that our exciting program of events and exhibitions will inspire even more people to visit the museum in 2022 for fun, inspiration, pleasure or perhaps solace. As well as looking back, the centenary is a great opportunity to look forward and we look forward to sharing many new developments over the next year.