RWA reopening - what to expect from your visit

RWA reopening - what to expect from your visit

We are thrilled to announce that we are now OPEN!

Come down and see the RWA's biggest transformation in over a century! We want everyone to feel welcome and enjoy their visit. We have new and free spaces to come and explore for all ages, plus a programme of brilliant events. Whether you are visiting for the first time, or we are welcoming you back, here is some information about what to expect from our new space when you visit...

  • A huge new lift that can carry four wheelchair users and their companions – and which also now boasts one of the biggest outdoor artworks in Bristol, with a specially designed piece on the façade by artist and Royal Academician Peter Randall-Page (pictured)
  • A new wheelchair-accessible toilet and Changing Places facility, so that wheelchair users and their companions can visit the galleries and enjoy art on equal terms
“Buildings such as the RWA are much more than just bricks and mortar, and to be trusted to work on one of Bristol’s most historic sites is a real honour." - Mike Hedges, Director of construction firm Beard

Our Exhibitions

We now have many ways for you to be inspired.  Firstly we have our ticketed, major exhibition Me, Myself, I: Artists' Self-Portraits (until 19 June 2022). This is our landmark reopening exhibition. An exploration of self-portraiture over the past three hundred years the exhibition includes over 80 artworks by major artists including Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin, Sonia Boyce and Antony Gormley. You can discover the artist's who challenged social norms and questioned identity, gender and representation ahead of their time. See the full list of artists in the show.

Researching and compiling this exhibition has been an intriguing and personal journey for me...The exhibition also has its own unique story to tell in the challenges of trying to curate it during the course of the Covid pandemic and the impact that has had on the resulting collection of artworks it features" - Tessa Jackson OBE, curator.

Tip: Grab yourself an Art Pass for just £15 you get a year of art & you can come back to see Earth: Digging Deep in British Art 1781 - 2022 for free!

Free to access

Free entry days for Me, Myself, I.

We are planning two special discounted days for the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday in June (2 & 3 June 2022). You can subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear more about these plans.

This is Me (until 19 June)
You can also come to RWA and explore our other exhibitions for free at any point. The Kenny Gallery is a dedicated space to showcase the work by RWA Academicians, who were invited to show work in any medium that they consider defines them and their practice. Free to enter. The gallery can be accessed via our large new lift and without an exhibition ticket.
We, Ourselves, Us (until 19 June)

The other free to access exhibition is on our Lower Ground Floor (LGF) - We, Ourselves, Us.  Whilst our doors have been closed, we have been working with our local community. 'We Ourselves, Us' is a free exhibition created by a group of individuals, who are supported by weekly sessions of Art on Referral, developed in partnership with creativeShift / Art Ease. This exhibition looks at self-portraiture, exploring how our worlds portray us through the things we like.
Photo: Martin Edwards
"I've so enjoyed working with everyone in this year long self portraiture journey. What a challenge, lockdown Zoom, mail-outs, RWA visits and group sessions, installing a diverse multi-media exhibition amidst builders rubble with Helen, Ellen and tech team. Everyone really went for it!" - Jill Carter

Free Family Activity Space

RWA Family Activity Space
On the Lower Ground Floor is our new, free Family Activity Space. Here you can create your own giant masterpieces, get creative with our activities or dress up as artists and figures from RWA history. Everyone is welcome!  Share your masterpieces with us at to appear on the screen!
Share with us by tagging us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and using #RWAFamily.
You can also pick up a Family Heritage Trail (pictured) or borrow a sensory bag from the Welcome Desk.


See What's On for a range of accompanying exhibition events and ongoing family events and art classes. Just some of the upcoming events include:

Accessible Events 

See our BSL welcome on our Visit Page
We have an expanded programme of accessible events for all ages including:

“We want to bring fun and the joy of making and creating to our family audiences; and for adults with learning or physical disabilities and sensory impairments, it’s about recognising their abilities rather than their disabilities and ensuring they feel appreciated and supported.” Helen Jacobs - Head of Learning and Engagement

Art Classes

We are delighted to say that the RWA Drawing School now has a brand new Studio (previously the Methuen Gallery) and hosts a wide variety of art workshops and courses for all creative abilities (we still have some on Zoom too). Subscribe to the Drawing School newsletter to be first to know about our latest classes or explore the summer term here.


Not long until we open up our new Spicer+Cole Cafe! They will be serving up their usual delicious and ethically sourced food and drink in this fabulous new space, with their largest counter in Bristol; think large salad bowls, savouries piled high, artisan sandwiches and cakes galore! All welcome.

“We are really excited to be working with the RWA in their beautiful new space. The partnership is a perfect fit for us as the arts are close to our hearts and many of our existing customers, so now we can all enjoy incredible art and delicious fresh food and coffee, all under one roof - or on the stunning terrace when the weather plays ball!” - Chris & Carla of Spicer + Cole


We have an expanded Shop which continues to be stuffed full of independent sellers, local artists work and much more! Pop in and see us soon.
“It’s been a really tough project with plenty of challenges along the way and we couldn’t have done it without the support of some amazing national and local donors, our amazing staff team, Friends volunteers & those of you who contributed to our Crowdfunder & Art Fund 'Art For All' campaign. We are so grateful to everyone that has supported us.Nicola Prosser, Director - Operations

Hear the latest news

You can subscribe to our newsletter for ongoing updates, offers and to be the first to hear about our upcoming shows and submission openings.
We hope to see you soon!

Images: 1 Evan Dawson, 2 Anne Purkiss, 3-7 Alice Hendy Photography, 8 Harold Offeh Selfie Choreography, 9 Alice Hendy, 10 Spicer + Cole.