The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is Canterbury’s main museum of art and local history, which has been operating for over 120 years.
The museum is a Grade II listed Tudor Revival-style building that dates from the late Victorian period and it has previously been known as the Beaney Institute and the Royal Museum and Art Gallery.
The museum was founded in 1899 after Dr James George Beaney left £10,000 for the establishment of a museum in Canterbury and Canterbury City Council added additional funds so the new museum could accommodate the city’s existing local history museum.
The museum underwent refurbishment between 2009 and 2012, which has improved the visitor experience without detracting too much from the museum’s Victorian-era charm.
What to see at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
The museum’s original collection includes English and European ceramics, Anglo-Saxon grave jewellery and prehistoric Roman and Anglo-Saxon artefacts that have been found in Kent. There are also some exhibits relating to the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).
The museum also has a large collection of artworks including works by local artists including Thomas Sidney Cooper, Thomas George Cooper and William Sidney Cooper. There are also Old Masters from the 16th century onwards.
Temporary exhibitions at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
The museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Current and planned exhibitions include:
Run in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery, the Mirror Mirror exhibition (until 29 January 2023) features portraits of people with an association with Canterbury as well as portraits of people who have been role models for local residents throughout the years.
Rooted in Fabric
The Rooted in Fabric exhibition (until 12 February 2023) looks back at 200 years of history of African fashion with an emphasis on traditional textiles and how they have come to represent the African diaspora.
Art Therapy Journeys
Art Therapy Journeys is an art exhibition (18 February–12 March 2023) features artwork produced throughout 2022 by Art Therapy groups at the Beaney.
The World of Peter Rabbit Storytime Trail
This exhibition (18 February–16 April 2023) presents scenes from Beatrix Potter’s 1902 children’s book The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Visiting the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is on High Street, right in the heart of the city centre. Most other points of interest in Canterbury are nearby including Canterbury Cathedral and the Canterbury Roman Museum, which are both only a 2–3-minute walk from the museum.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday and admission is free of charge.
The 2009–2012 refurbishment programme added disabled access to the museum and it is now accessible to disabled visitors.
You should allow 1–2 hours to visit the museum.