Must Visit Art Galleries in Cumbria

With its miles of scenic coastline, dramatic peaks, tempting waters and rich history, the landscapes of Cumbria and the Lake District have inspired artists, poets and photographers for generations. With so much natural beauty and resource here, it is no wonder Cumbria is home to a thriving community of artists, glass makersjewellers and textile workers among other talented craftspeople.

Here in Cumbria, you’ll find a huge range of art galleries and exhibition spaces that host an ever-changing calendar of works in virtually every medium, covering a range of subjects including landscapes, still life and wildlife paintings. Whether you’re an art fanatic or are simply looking for things to do on a rainy day in Cumbria, why not pay one of the region’s fantastic art galleries a visit?

With the help of this guide to some of the best art galleries in Cumbria, discover delightful artworks from both locally and nationally known artists who have a deep love and appreciation for the natural beauty of the region. From independent galleries and studios to museums and seasonal fairs you can discover incredible works of art and let’s not forget the outstanding outdoor sculpture trails of Grizdale Forest.

Residing under the shadow of the nearby Carlisle Castle and with Hadian’s Wall passing virtually by the doorstep, The Tullie House Museum & Gallery is a beautifully converted Jacobean mansion that is home to a huge collection of contemporary art and an impressive collection of Pre-Raphaelite pieces. Here you will find several galleries including the exhibition gallery, community gallery, Roman frontier gallery and a costume collection showcasing 300 years of Cumbrian history.

The Tullie House in Carlisle also hosts galleries charting the rich history and culture of the area including award winning displays reflecting the city’s Roman past as a garrison astride Hadrian’s Wall that history buffs will find particularly fascinating. From touring exhibitions to in-house developments, you’ll find world-class objects and thought-provoking interactive displays here.

The Percy House Gallery, which opened in May 2002, is a grade II listed building which dates back to the 14th century. Despite the building and artworks taking a knock in the devastating 2009 Cockermouth floods, much of it has been saved and restored, and the ceiling can still be seen alongside oak beams, original flagstones, fireplaces and plasterwork.

The gallery hosts a large selection of work by over 200 Cumbrian and British artists ranging from jewellery and textiles to ceramics, paintings and photographs. The unusual arts, crafts and paintings on display change regularly and are displayed in the seven rooms of the gallery.

Housed in a picturesque brewery building, the Brewery Arts Centre has been a hub for cinema, stage-on-screen, music, comedy, free exhibitions and workshops in Kendal and the wider region for over 40 years. A recent refurbishment has added a state of the art two-screen cinema, plus a ‘digital lounge’ for immersive film and gaming experiences as well as a music production studio.

Throughout the year, the Brewery Arts Centre hosts a diverse range of exhibitions that showcase the talents of both locally and nationally celebrated artists. From contemporary Lake District art to photography, sculpture and everything in between, there’s always something exciting on exhibition here. Whatever your tastes, we’re certain you’ll find something to enjoy at the Brewery Arts Centre.

Nestled in Keswick’s beautiful rolling landscapes in the northern Lake District, the Northern Lights Gallery is a contemporary art gallery with works from over 85 English and Lake District artists across 3 floors. Expect to find beautifully crafted ceramics, glassworks, pottery, sculptures, jewellery, prints and paintings here. Every few months the Northern Lights Gallery exhibits one of their talented artists in their Blencathra Gallery on the 3rd floor, showcasing a selection of work that focuses on the fells surrounding Keswick or the way the artist has been inspired by the beauty of the nature in the area.

Located on the edge of the northern lakes near the historic market town of Penrith, Rheged is a uniquely hybrid venue housing shops, cafes, cinema screens, a theatre space, a gallery and children’s activities. The centre has a dedicated gallery that brings together established and emerging local artists and hosts a variety of exhibitions throughout the year designed to appeal to adults and children alike.

The centre is also home to a giant 3D cinema, which shows a year-round programme of screenings, five constantly changing exhibition spaces, a variety of shops selling crafts, food, outdoor clothing and much more. There’s plenty to keep families occupied here, including workshops and craft activities, making it a particularly good place if you’re in need of something to do on a rainy day in Cumbria.

Nestled in the quaint town of Grasmere in the heart of the Lake District National Park, the Heaten Cooper studio is made up of three galleries exhibiting the work of the Heaten Cooper family of Lake District artists. In 1940, William Heaten Cooper published his first print “Wind and Sun, Wastwater” and since then, the collection has steadily grown to more than a hundred different prints by the different artists in the family. For generations their Lake District paintings, prints, sculptures and books have influenced the way the landscape of the region has been viewed.

The Grasmere art gallery is also home to the popular Mathilde’s Café, with a menu inspired by simple and tasty Scandinavian food culture, which you will find listed in our blog on the best cafés in Cumbria. You can also find everything you need for painting, drawing and printing here with the gallery’s range of artist materials, gifts and books all available for purchase.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or simply love beautiful art, give one of these Cumbria art galleries a visit and discover all sorts from impressive, nationally significant collections in Grade listed buildings to historic houses that have a focus on local, contemporary art.

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