Despite failing in a bid to become Swansea UK City of Culture 2021, it’s fair to say that the city takes its cultural offerings very seriously indeed.
You can tell a good city by its diversity of museums. Spanning the city’s naval history, Egyptian mummies, local poet hero Dylan Thomas, the region’s stunning coastline and more, Swansea’s museum scene is definitely alive and kicking.
Start off by visiting the Swansea Museum on Victoria Road. The oldest museum in Wales dating back to 1841, the neo-classical building is home to six galleries and exhibitions in total, covering everything from a wonderfully preserved Egyptian mummy to an extensive collection of boats and maritime artefacts.
Literally around the corner from the Swansea Museum, you’ll find the National Waterfront Museum. Taking an in-depth look at Swansea’s history of innovation, the museum features some fascinating collections spanning transport, technology, the retail world and the city’s maritime history. Located in an adapted Victorian-era warehouse, which has been updated with a smart slate and glass exterior, the museum also celebrates Swansea’s vital role in the industrial revolution in Wales and the rest of the UK.
If the Egyptian mummy has piqued your interest, then head to the Egypt Centre in the Swansea University Campus to find out more about the Egyptian empire. Founded in 1998, the museum expanded the existing university collection and opened it up to the public, giving a chance to explore over 5,000 items and artefacts. There’s also an on-site café and well-stocked gift shop selling a range of souvenirs including semi-precious stones, Egyptian scent bottles, papyrus, statues and more.
A city in love with its once-resident poet Dylan Thomas, Swansea rightly celebrates his life and influential work. And the Dylan Thomas Centre, less than half a mile from our Swansea City Centre hotel and a short stroll from the Swansea Museum, is a great place to find out more about the writer. Located in the city’s old guildhall building – originally opened in 1825 – the centre’s show-stopper is the Love The Words exhibition, which tells the story of his life, work and legacy while also exploring the power of the written word.
To really connect with Swansea’s great outdoors, head to the Gower Heritage Centre on the coast. Based around a working 12-century watermill, the visitor centre is home to a rural life museum which vividly portrays what working and home life was like 800 years ago. The centre is also a fun family day out offering craft shops and activities, an animal farm, soft play area, adventure playground and La Charrette Wales, the nation’s smallest cinema, with just 23 seats.
A free event that draws over 200,000 people, the Swansea Air Show is held in Swansea Bay each July, featuring an impressive array of aerobatic displays, military aircraft and vintage planes. Held at the start of July, the two-day affair also includes ground displays along the Swansea Prom. The main highlight must be the jaw-dropping display by the Red Arrows, as they cavort and contort themselves above Swansea’s rugged and gorgeous coastline. If you’re visiting for the Air Show, then our Swansea Waterfront hotel is the ideal place to stay if you want to be close to the action.
Reopened in 2016, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is based in an impressive 1911 Grade II-listed building and is an extensive space with an open-minded artistic remit. The free art gallery is just over half a mile from our City Centre hotel and includes contemporary art pieces, as well as more modern artworks, while also doubling up as a live music and performance space. They regularly change up the exhibitions and art themes, so check ahead to find out what’s on display during your stay.
Based in the Maritime district near the Swansea Museum, Mission Gallery is a contemporary art space housed in a converted 19th-century church. With up to three exhibitions screening at any one time, plus regular events, the gallery has been supporting local artists for over 40 years and has become a well-established part of the art scene.
Founded in 1962, the Attic Gallery is Swansea’s oldest private art gallery. They support dozens of local artists and printmakers, with seasonal exhibitions where the works displayed are for sale.
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