Bristol is bustling with history – visitors come from all across the world to see Bristol Cathedral, St Mary Redcliffe Church, and more modern wonders like Brunel’s magnificent SS Great Britain museum ship. However, Bristol is also one of the United Kingdom’s cultural capitals, and the famed Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading centres for the contemporary arts. If you’re staying in Bristol for the weekend, Arnolfini certainly belongs on your list of things to see.

Founded in 1961, the Arnolfini organisation is dedicated to producing and presenting striking visual arts, performance art, dance, film, and music. Today, there are three floors of galleries where visitors can view some of the most compelling and provocative examples of contemporary art from leading figures such as:

  • Paul McCartney
  • Bridget Riley
  • Rachel Whiteread
  • Richard Long
  • Jack Yeats

Regular events are held throughout the year, so check the schedule to see if anything catches your eye. Poetry and film festivals can be caught at Arnolfini, as can live art installations, dance performances, jazz shows, and lectures covering a wide range of subjects. Previous experimental music concerts include:

  • Bodies in Flight
  • Goat Island Performance Group
  • Akram Khan,
  • The London Sinfonietta
  • The Philip Glass Ensemble
  • Random Dance
  • Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company

If you prefer a more subdued visit, head to the reading room to leaf through a varied selection of reference materials from past exhibits and a vast collection of books and catalogues.

Arnolfini also welcomes younger visitors. Plenty of schools, groups, and other educational organisations have brought their students here for exciting interactive workshops, and they continue to offer an open environment to support and challenge visitors of all ages.

As a 2016 finalist in the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year search, Arnolfini has been recognised as one of the leading centres of contemporary art, and it’s an attraction those visiting Bristol shouldn’t miss. If you’d like to visit, you’ll find it on Narrow Quay, just between the harbourside and Prince Street in the centre of Bristol.

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