Exploring art beyond the city

Published 17 April 2019

Why not broaden your horizons with a weekend getaway to see some art? Here are five great spots for a day trip or weekend break, all with fascinating museums and galleries.

Tony Cragg, Declination

Tony Cragg, Declination, 2014. Photo: Barney Hindle © 2016 Cass Sculpture Foundation

For nature lovers

Set just outside Gloucester, Nature in Art is the world's only museum dedicated exclusively to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature.

Spanning 1,500 years, the collection embraces work in all media and styles, ranging from exquisite treasures to watercolour landscapes.

Over 600 artists are represented, including Jacob Epstein, René Lalique, Pablo Picasso, Michael Porter and Charles Tunnicliffe.

It's also housed in a beautiful Georgian mansion set among lovely gardens and gorgeous countryside where you can enjoy nature itself in all its glory.

Free entry with a National Art Pass

For a trip to the seaside

Nestled in the heart of Margate, a town famously loved by JMW Turner, is Turner Contemporary, where the move from 19th-century to contemporary art occurs before your very eyes.

Turner is one of Britain’s most beloved artists, and one of his favourite subjects was the East Kent coast. Drawn back there by the quality of the light, he claimed the skies were 'the loveliest in all Europe'.

The gallery always has a diverse range of works to see, including many from the 18th century to the current day which respond in some way to Turner's work.

10% off shop purchases with a National Art Pass

For a step back in time

Named for the Augustinian priory that was founded on the site in the 12th century, today's Nostell is a gorgeous 18th-century Palladian mansion turned into a ravishing display of wealth and artistic taste.

Lavish interiors and a series of imposing state rooms were created by architect Robert Adam, and the 'Shakespeare of furniture' Thomas Chippendale designed over 100 bespoke pieces for the house.

Don't miss the exquisite dolls' house decorated with tiny Chippendale furniture and miniature paintings by famous artists.

Outside you can lose yourself in 300 acres of parkland and gardens, including wildflower meadows, kitchen gardens, lakes and woodland.

Free entry with a National Art Pass

For a stroll in the great wide open

If you're looking to combine a ramble in the outdoors with a cultural adventure, head to Cass Sculpture Foundation, a stunning contemporary sculpture park around 30 minutes from the beautiful cathedral city of Chichester.

Set in acres of ancient woodland on the Sussex Downs, each individual piece of work is revealed in its own space in the landscape, while benches, pavilions and other works by contemporary designers are scattered among the trees.

The foundation regularly commissions new work by both established and emerging artists, and you can discover stunning creations by renowned British sculptors and designers such as Laura Ford, Antony Gormley and Tania Kovats.

50% off exhibitions with a National Art Pass

For something a little different

There's no need to restrict yourself to the UK. You can skip over the Atlantic, in a manner of speaking, by visiting the only museum of Americana outside of the United States.

Only a short bus ride from Bath city centre, the American Museum and Gardens were created to showcase the history and cultures of America in Britain in 1961.

You can explore the history of the US from its early settlers to the 20th century and discover a remarkable collection of folk and decorative arts. The museum is housed in a manor house with fabulous views over the surrounding countryside, and the grounds include the largest collection of American horticultural features in the UK.

50% off entry with a National Art Pass

From the Scottish Islands to Penzance, you're never far from a memorable cultural experience with a National Art Pass.

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