The Light and Inspiration Capital Project

The front of RWA with building works and mural

RWA Mural 2021 Photo: Lisa Whiting Photography

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Internal view looking up at rooflight windows

The new roof-light windows providing natural light to RWA galleries

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Internal view looking up at rooflight windows with some view of gallery wall detail

The new clear glazing provides natural light to RWA galleries

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Inside the RWA gallery space with ladder and building materials, a bright window provides light at the far side

RWA Light and Inspiration progress continues

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Internal space with scaffolding to the near left side and wall dividers at the back of the room

Progress to the new RWA Drawing School studio space

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RWA gallery space and doorway with plaster visible on the walls

Continued progress with plaster on the gallery walls

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RWA gallery with plasterboard on the walls and work equipment in the centre of the room

Plasterboard fitted to RWA gallery walls

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A rooftop with lantern windows

New lantern glazing will reduce summer heat and winter cold in our beautiful galleries

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View of the RWA rooftop and windows with sky in the background

Lantern glazing installed on the roof

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View from RWA rooftop onto the street

View from the RWA roof

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View from the RWA rooftop including original building features

Works underway to the RWA roof

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External building works looking down on a lift shaft pit

The new modern lift will improve access

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Building works to the side of RWA building

Works underway to improve access including a modern lift

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Internal view of building works over split-level with scaffolding to the far side

Work to the lift internally

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A large room with building work and materials

Work progressing on the new family and community space

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Close-up of the front of the RWA building works progress

Works to improve visitor experience from first glimpse, widening windows and opening up new glass doorways

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Internal works inside the main gallery

Cladding is installed to the gallery walls

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View of internal building works and scaffolding

Scaffolding inside the main galleries

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Inside view of RWA building works

Internal building works

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Internal view of works progress

Internal work in the main RWA galleries

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Internal works in RWA galleries with scaffolding

Work inside the main RWA galleries

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Internal view of the original RWA galleries

RWA Main Gallery - before

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Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other generous supporters, an exciting project to secure the future of the RWA, transforming the experience for visitors and the communities we work with, is in progress.

Delivering a major transformational project during a global pandemic has presented significant and unprecedented challenges. Fundraising while the gallery was closed due to national lockdowns severely restricted opportunities to engage with potential funders. 

Despite this, support for the project has been widespread, with over £3.75m secured to date.  Despite rigorous project management, the ‘ping-demic’ plus delays to the supply of essential building materials have forced us to extend the project timeframe and added to project costs.

Our re-opening, originally scheduled for January 2022, is now going to be in April 2022.  

Costs have increased, from £3.8m to £4.1m.

Despite having raised more than we initially set out to achieve, there remains a shortfall of just over £300,000 – to be raised by March 2022.

The Light and Inspiration project is exciting and it is going to make a difference to people across Bristol for generations to come. We call on all supporters of art and creativity to donate what you can to help us complete the work, transforming our already beautiful building into one of THE great galleries, accessible for everyone.

What will the Light and Inspiration Appeal achieve?

  • Make urgent repairs to save the RWA’s Grade II* listed galleries from catastrophic failure.
  • Bring world-class art and exhibitions to Bristol, attracting 40% more visitors and community users to the RWA.
  • Extend RWA’s celebrated community and wellbeing programmes so more vulnerable and isolated people can find enjoyment through art and creativity. Read more about our Light and Inspiration Activity here
  • Deliver a step-change in financial and environmental sustainability.

 “Without this project there is a real risk the RWA would have to close its doors.”  Alison Bevan, RWA Director 

How will the £4.1 million project secure the future of the RWA?

  • Replace the original sky-light windows above the main galleries with new thermally-insulated lanterns, enabling the world’s finest artworks to be seen in Bristol’s stunning, purpose-built gallery
  • Mitigate extreme temperatures, from sweltering summer heat to icy cold, vastly improving the experience for visitors and volunteers
  • Upgrade the building to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs, including a new air source heat pump and under floor heating throughout the galleries
  • Sensitively remodel the façade, with new entrances and lighting to engage more visitors and create a truly welcoming environment
  • Transform the forecourt into a vibrant outdoor creative, social events space
  • Build a new, much larger lift on the side of the building, improving access for all of our visitors as well as enabling us to easily transport largescale artworks to the first floor
  • Enlarge the cafe, retail and greeting spaces to be warm and inviting
  • Introduce advanced technology for on-site marketing and e-commerce
  • Invest in more community exhibitions and learning programmes, starting with exciting plans during the period when the galleries will be closed for repair. Read more about our Light and Inspiration Activity here.

“In our 175-year history, tens of thousands of people have exhibited their work here, from famous artists – ranging from Turner to Turner Prize Winners – to emerging artists and schoolchildren. The RWA’s Light and Inspiration Appeal will ensure future generations can see world-class artworks, be inspired and encouraged to explore their own creativity." Stewart Geddes, Past RWA President

To make a donation to the project please click here.  

To find out who has supported the appeal to date please click here 

To read more about our community and wellbeing programmes that are being extended as part of the the project please click here.


About the RWA 

The RWA – Bristol's first art gallery – is proud to bring world-class visual art from around the world to the South West. To see more about RWA click here.

Join the RWA team

See our latest opportunities and be a part of this project.

Supported by:

Fundraising Appeal Sponsors:

Activity Sponsor:



Light and Inspiration Capital Project

Find out how you can make a difference by making a donation towards the project

Light and Inspiration Activity

Creative activity, as part of our Light and Inspiration project, working in partnership with some of Bristol's most vulnerable communities

Make a Donation

Help enrich the lives of people from all communities and backgrounds with art

Become a Patron

Share your passion for art through a close relationship with the RWA and its Academicians

Corporate Sponsorship

Our sponsors receive excellent staff benefits and fantastic marketing opportunities