The Light and Inspiration Capital Project

The new forecourt provides a welcoming entrance to the new RWA building

Banners, new doors, planting and step free access aim to create a welcoming introduction to the new building

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The new lift features patterned enamel cladding by Peter Randall-Page

The finished lift with enamel cladding sits alongside the architecture of the RWA building, designed by Artist Peter Randall-Page

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An image of the family Activity Space, with seating for adults and children, art materials, bean bags and the lift entrance

The Family Activity Space is a free to access space open to everyone, with plenty of room for families. The space includes giant artworks, dress up and art materials

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An image of the lift button and floor plan in the Family Activity Space

The new lift is capable of carrying four wheelchair users, and their companions. The new building features new and transformed spaces

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An image of the Changing Places Facility, including the basin, toilet and hoist

The brand new Changing Places Facility is placed on the lower ground floor, the finished space can be accessed with a RADAR key and enables everyone to visit the RWA

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The finished forecourt provides a open and friendly welcome to new visitors

The step free forecourt features new doors, digital screens and planting to provide a warm welcome to visitors

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The Sharples gallery filled with people and the opening exhibition

The Sharples Gallery with the landmark reopening exhibition, Me, Myself, I: Artist's Self Portraits

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The RWA shop features books, gifts and cards

With new shelving the new RWA shop showcases work from local artists as well as books and gifts

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The Kenny Gallery can be found on the first floor, a free to access space it is full of the work of our RWA Academicians

The Kenny Gallery is a new gallery space to show work of our Academicians, the room can be accessed via the new lift

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The History gallery is a new free to access space showing artwork from the local community

The History Gallery is on the lower ground floor, it is a free to access space and shows community art shows

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The image shows the new Studio with storage

The new Drawing School Studio, this space now includes underfloor heating, specialist lighting and purpose-built storage

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The purpose built storage area of the new studio has plenty of room for art materials, paper and a sink for washing brushes

The new Drawing School Studio has purpose built storage to leave the main studio space free for classes

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The new lift structure complete with patterned enamel panels

The lift panels are fitted, designed by sculptor & printmaker Peter Randall-Page RA

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The front of RWA with building works and mural

RWA Mural 2021 Photo: Lisa Whiting Photography

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Scaffolding surrounds the new RWA lift structure, enamel panels are being installed with blue sky in the background

The new lift panels are installed, designed by sculptor & printmaker Peter Randall-Page RA

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The entrance to the RWA, with large glass windows, paving in the foreground and someone in an orange high vis jacket sweeping at the side

The front entrance is taking shape with the new paving on the forecourt

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A divided room, at the back shelving, to the side is a basin sink

The new Drawing Studio is almost finished - complete with under floor heating

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An outdoor space with paving stone fitted and piles of stone in the background

Paving is fitted to the forecourt

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A large gallery space with piles of floorboards and tools in the centre of the room

New under floor heating being installed throughout the RWA galleries as part of building upgrades to improve energy efficiency

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External view of the forecourt under construction

External work of the forecourt and planting beds

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Internal view of the Family Room and the door to the Changing Places Facility

Internal building works of the Family Room and Changing Places Facility

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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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External view of the RWA building showing the shell of the new lift

Work in progress on the new lift, capable of carrying 4 wheelchair users and their carers

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The front of a building with the word Academy above the door

The paving is being installed to the forecourt

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A room with flooring being installed and scaffolding at the far side

The new Drawing Studio is taking shape. Photo credit: Barbara Evripidou/FirstAvenuePhotography

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Internal works in the new RWA Drawing School

Building materials in the new Drawing School space

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A room with scaffolding and building materials & people in high vis vests & safety helmets at the far side of the space

Progress to the Family Activity Space. Photo credit: Barbara Evripidou/FirstAvenuePhotography

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Glass double doors lead into a gallery space with red walls and scaffolding in the centre

The galleries are almost complete. Photo credit: Barbara Evripidou/FirstAvenuePhotography

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A large open gallery space, people in high vis jackets and safety helmets gather in the centre, there are wooden floorboards to the side of the room

Progress continues in the RWA galleries. Photo credit: Barbara Evripidou/FirstAvenuePhotography

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A large gallery space with red painted walls and white ceiling

The RWA galleries are starting to take shape

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A gallery space with walls painted dark red and floorboards in the centre of the space

Fresh painted walls in the RWA galleries

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A large gallery space with floorboards being partially installed

New under floor heating is installed throughout the RWA galleries

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A large gallery space with white floor and white walls

The new under floor heating is part of the building upgrades to improve energy efficiency

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Two large gallery spaces with floorboards removed and piles of flooring to the side of the space

Work continues in the RWA galleries

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Outside view of the RWA forecourt with new large windows / doors installed

New windows are installed in the enhanced cafe area. The forecourt will be transformed into a vibrant outdoor creative, social events space

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Two glass doors look out onto a street

New cafe doors installed

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A large ceiling skylight with blue sky

Sky-light windows in the RWA galleries have been replaced with new thermally-insulated lanterns

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A person in a high vis jacket is on scaffolding working on the RWA gallery decorative walls

Conservators at work in the RWA galleries

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A close up shot of decorative interior wall features inside the RWA gallery

Before the conservation work

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A large skylight surrounded by white ceiling and red painted walls, scaffolding is central in the room

Light and Inspiration progress continues in the galleries

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A gallery space with building materials in the centre and red painted walls

Work continues in the RWA galleries

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A room with red walls and a doorway to the right of the picture

Light and Inspiration progress inside the RWA galleries

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A gallery space with scaffolding and building materials in the centre of the room

Light and Inspiration progress in the RWA galleries

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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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A gallery space with feature walls and boards surrounding the space

Plasterboard is added to the gallery walls

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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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White painted walls and scaffolding in the foreground

The new RWA Drawing School space is coming together

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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 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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A large steelwork structure is installed to the side of the RWA building

Steelwork is installed for the new lift

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Steelwork of a lift structure against the side of the RWA building

The new lift to the side of the RWA building will improve access and enable large scale artworks to be transported easily to the first floor

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A lift structure with scaffolding surrounding it

The new lift to the side of the RWA building is taking shape

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A view looking downwards into building works with scaffolding and timber frame

Work continues to the external lift which will improve access

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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, we have recently completed an exciting project to secure the future of the RWA, transforming the experience for visitors and the communities we work with.

What has the Light and Inspiration Appeal achieved?

  • Made urgent repairs to save the RWA’s Grade II* listed galleries from catastrophic failure.
  • Transformed this landmark building's relationship with the city, ensuring everyone feels welcome and is nourished by their visit
  • Enabled us to bring world-class art and exhibitions to Bristol, attracting 40% more visitors and community users to the RWA.
  • Extended 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
  • Delivered a step-change in financial and environmental sustainability.

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

How did the £4.1 million project transform the RWA?

The project aimed to improve every aspect of the Gallery, from how you enter the building to what you're able to see and do within it. We have:
  • Replaced the original sky-lights 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
  • Mitigated extreme temperatures, from sweltering summer heat to icy cold, vastly improving the experience for visitors and volunteers
  • Introduced a Changing Places Facility, complete with adult changing table, hoist and wet room, essential for those with profound disabilities
  • Created new free-to-access spaces throughout the building, including a vibrant family space, full of creative activities for everyone
  • Upgraded the building to improve energy efficiency, reduce costs and decrease environmental impact, eliminating carbon fuel use and installing a new air source heat pump and under floor heating throughout the galleries
  • Sensitively remodelled the façade, with new entrances and lighting to engage more visitors and create a truly welcoming environment
  • Transformed the forecourt into a vibrant outdoor creative, social events space
  • Built 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
  • Enlarged the cafe, retail and greeting spaces to be warm and inviting
  • Introduced advanced technology for on-site marketing and e-commerce
  • Invested in more community exhibitions and learning programmes, continuing the extensive work we're doing while the galleries are closed. Read more about our Light and Inspiration Activity here.

Architect's Visualisation of the new RWA

“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 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 underrepresented 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

Sponsors receive marketing benefits including exposure to our audiences and hospitality in our stunning galleries