Art attack: East Anglia's 7 must-see art galleries

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From exhibitions featuring world-famous artists to a gallery housed in a historic seaside tower, here are seven of the best places in East Anglia to get your art fix.

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Sainsbury's art gallery has an eclectic collection of 1,400 items spanning 5,000 years


Sited on the campus of University of East Anglia, the SCVA is one of the most prominent university art galleries in the UK. It was built to house the collection of Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury in the 1970s, and is the first public building that renowned architect Norman Foster ever designed. The Sainsbury’s collection is eclectic – 1,400 items spanning 5,000 years – and there are also permanent collections of Art Nouveau, ceramics and abstract art, so it’s sure to take more than one trip to absorb all this fascinating gallery has to offer.

Nearest station: Norwich

Ruskin Gallery

Another university gallery, this time on the campus of the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University, which is a ten minute walk from the city centre. The Ruskin Gallery has the UK’s first digital gallery, where the latest plasma and audio technology allows digital viewing alongside traditional picture hanging. Exhibitions are free, and change regularly.

Nearest station: Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam

The Fitzwilliam holds paintings from all the greats

At the art galleries at Cambridge’s world-famous Fitzwilliam Museum you’ll see a who’s who of painting greats throughout the ages: Titian, Constable, Matisse, Monet, Rubens and Degas, to name but a few. The museum also has one of the world’s most impressive collection of flower paintings and drawings, as well as celebrated watercolour paintings by Whistler, Turner, Sargent and more, all of which are displayed through a changing programme of exhibitions and displays.

Nearest station: Cambridge

Firstsite and The Minories Galleries

Visit Colchester and you can get two art galleries for the price of one. Firstsite is a stunning space offering a frequently-changing programme of exhibitions, plus film screenings, performances and activities for all the community. It’s housed in a building that’s a work of art in its own right: a floating golden crescent designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly – the shimmering metallic exterior was all applied by hand. Next door and in superb contrast to this contemporary design is the beautiful Georgian building that houses The Minories Galleries. Run by the Colchester School of Art, the Minories displays contemporary art, and also has a beautiful walled garden and tea room run by famous local jam makers Tiptree.

Nearest station: Colchester

GroundWork​

Art and the environment take centre stage at GroundWork

Small but perfectly formed, GroundWork in Kings Lynn is dedicated to art and the environment. Its exhibitions invite visitors to think about how art can respond to the changing world and shape its future, complemented by a wider programme of workshops, events and community projects. Expect to see internationally-renowned artists alongside emerging talent, using a range of media including painting, sculpture and film.

Nearest station: Kings Lynn

Ipswich Art Gallery

Formerly the site for Ipswich’s art school, the Ipswich Art Gallery is housed in a 1930s Art Deco building next to the city’s museum. Showing work by international artists alongside emerging regional talent, you’ll find exhibits from Ipswich’s own art collections as well as touring exhibitions – a current highlight is Rodin’s The Kiss, on loan from the Tate until the end of April.

Nearest station: Ipswich

The Naze Tower

There's more than art at Naze Tower – incredible views, too

Like your art with a side helping of stunning views? Head to the Naze Tower in Walton-on-the-Naze, where you’ll find a gallery in this 86ft historic landmark. Putting on three exhibitions a year that feature the work of East Anglian artists, all the work on display is also available to buy, and much of it has been inspired by the local coastline and area. Once you’ve explored the gallery, head to the roof viewing platform to see the living piece of art that is the Essex seascape.

Nearest station: Walton-on-the-Naze

Visit East Anglia's art galleries by train
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