Royal West of England Academy
Tel: +44 (0)117 973 5129
The RWA is a unique and historic art gallery located in a spectacular Grade II* listed building in the heart of Bristol. Since its renovation and re-opening in May 2022, the building is more accessible and welcoming than ever before. In our first year, the RWA welcomed over 150,000 visitors to its galleries, café, drawing school and family room. The venue aims to continue bringing world-class art to Bristol for visitors to enjoy, in one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in the country.
Our mission is to welcome everyone from all walks of life to enjoy art – either by doing or looking or both. Part of our program of events involves nurturing artists at all stages of their careers. Whether you are a beginner, emerging or established – we want to support you. We are a flagship art gallery here in South West England. We champion the arts, by having a wide and varied program of exhibitions and events that explore the breadth of artistic talent that exists locally, nationally, and globally, and in both a historic and contemporary context.
The RWA is a registered museum and self-supporting, independent charity. It receives no major core funding from local or national government, so there is a modest entry charge for main exhibitions, but the rest of the building, including the Café, Family Activity Space, Shop, Kenny Gallery, and Lower Ground Floor galleries are free to enter.
Café - Enjoy a break during your visit or drop in as you pass by. Spicer + Cole serves a range of ethically sourced, fresh food and drink, open throughout the day serving breakfast, light lunches, cakes, and the best coffee. There’s plenty of room inside and on our newly renovated, fully accessible forecourt.
Shop - Find an exciting memento of your visit in our small but beautifully curated shop. We stock a wide range of products, inspired by the RWA’s rich collections and current exhibitions. We have art-inspired gifts for both kids and adults ranging from cards to puzzles, posters of past and current exhibitions, art books plus an exclusive range from artist makers.
Family Room - For a while, our new family room on the Lower Ground Floor was one of our best-kept secrets but the word is out, and we love seeing how many people come and enjoy this purpose-built space. Designed for families of all ages, we have lots of drawing materials, giant interactive artwork, dressing up, puzzles, a chill-out reading area, and a brand-new puppet theatre.
Drawing School - The RWA Drawing School hosts a wide variety of art workshops and courses for all creative abilities in our new Drawing Studio and on Zoom. Take a look at our course program here.
We truly believe that art is for all and have made it part of our mission to engage with and support communities who can’t always easily access art and art activities. Here are some of the accessible activities we offer:
Baby Tours – from newborn to 1-year-olds, we lay out mats, blankets and toys so that you and your baby can enjoy some arty time in our main galleries with the reassuring knowledge that it’s ok for your baby to make baby noises!
Scribble and Sketch – family activities that take place on Saturdays at different locations across the city, including RWA.
Junior Drawing School – fun half-term and Summer Holiday activities led by professional artists, for school-aged children at the RWA.
Happy Families Holiday Workshops – these sensory, explorative workshops are specifically designed for families with children with SEN+D. Taking place on Mondays when the galleries are closed to the general public, families can come and explore and play with an experienced facilitator in a quiet, calm, and welcoming space.
Tuesday Teatime Tours – for older people, especially those living with dementia and their companions to come and enjoy the RWA spaces and artwork with an experienced facilitator.
Free activity Trail and Happy Packs (sensory bags) – both are available to all to enjoy during their visit (ask at the front desk).
Described Tours and BSL Tours – these tours, led by experienced facilitators, explore the work in current exhibitions.
Accessible Parking Spot - there is one accessible parking space at the RWA. This can be booked in advance of your visit by calling 0117 973 5129 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and is subject to availability.
Welcome Area - As you enter the building, you will find the Welcome Desk to your right. Here, staff and volunteers will be happy to assist you. There is a BSL welcome video at the Welcome Desk. At the desk, there are also lockers to leave any bags or coats. The lockers are a pound each and need a coin to use. You can also pick up a sensory bag to borrow for your visit.
Lift - We have a fully accessible lift, capable of taking four wheelchairs, available for your use. The lift gives access from the ground floor to the lower ground floor and the first-floor galleries.
Getting around - the listed building is fully wheelchair accessible, with level access to the Shop and Cafe on the ground floor, and lift access to all Galleries and to our accessible Changing Places Facility on the lower floor. A manually operated wheelchair is also available to borrow during your visit. There is bench seating in each of the galleries, and folding stools are available to borrow.
Accessible toilets - located on the ground floor (in the café) and lower ground floor, as well as a full Changing Places facility and baby-change facility on the lower ground floor.
Changing Places facilities – a fully equipped Changing Places toilet facility is located on the lower ground floor, including changing table, hoist and wet room. Accessed with a Radar Key (use your own or ask at the front desk).
Quiet Room - The Youngwood Room is a calm, quiet environment should you need time out during your visit. there are beanbags, comfy chairs and audio for white noise or music if required. There is a dark tent and weighted blanket to aid calming and soothing.
Information for our Visually Impaired Visitors - RWA offers large print copies of our gallery interpretation texts, our current RWA brochure and the Spicer and Cole Café Menu. RWA also offer described tours for our visually impaired visitors.
Buggy and Mobility Scooter Parking - There is a designated area to leave buggies within the Cafe and padlocks are available at the Welcome Desk.
RWA wheelchair – we have one spare wheelchair available for anyone to borrow during their visit (ask at the Welcome desk)
Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs are welcome.
The RWA is a proud Dementia Aware Organisation (Gold Award). Many of our staff members, including all the Visitor Experience team, have been trained by the Dementia Friends so that the RWA can better care for and support our visitors who are living with dementia and their companions. We also run Tuesday Teatime Tours, where we invite older people, especially those living with dementia and their companions, to join us for a tour of our current exhibition, followed by tea and cake. An experienced facilitator will encourage reminiscence, creative conversation and a closer look at some pieces from the exhibition.
|Opening times (from May 2023) (1 Jan 2023 - 31 Dec 2023)|
- Regional and Miscellaneous WTTC Safe Travels 2021
- Regional and Miscellaneous Gold Award A PROUD DEMENTIA AWARE ORGANISATION 2023
- AA Awards Museum + Heritage Awards Shortlisted 2023
- Gift Shop
- Accessible to Wheelchair Users
- All Areas Accessible to Disabled Visitors
- Changing Places Toilet
- Facilities for Visually Impaired Visitors
- Guide Dogs Permitted
- Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors
- Ramp to main entrance
- Toilets for Disabled Visitors
Children & Infants
- Facilities for children
- Cater for groups
- Event venue
- Celebrity connection
- Film or TV location
- Indoor Attraction
- Of historic, literary or architectural interest
Parking & Transport
- On Bus Route
TripAdvisor Traveller Rating:
- Very Good33
- LaurieStorySanta Monica, CaliforniaTrip Type:Friends getawayGreat Art - Lots of Local ArtistsWednesday, 12th February 2020William Turner, an English Romantic painter known for his imaginative landscapes and stormy marine paintings visited the Bristol area often and is a founding member of the RWA. Lots of interesting... Read full review
- Cromwell32England, United KingdomTrip Type:FamilyGood but could be better.Tuesday, 25th October 2022This was a good way to spend a couple of hours when the weather was awful. A good variety of art - even some I would have been able to afford, which was a first for me! I thought the entry price was... Read full review
- shelleysC9973GHVery goodFriday, 24th November 2023This Gallery has a very eclectic & good range of traditional & modern Art & sculpture. The Annual Pass (currently £15) is v good value (meaning each Exhibition costs about £5, with unlimited... Read full review