“A home, an art gallery, and a museum. Then they sealed it in time, and gave it to the future…”
Perfectly perched atop Bournemouth’s picturesque East Cliff, lies a house so ornate you would be forgiven for walking past it and thinking it was a posh hotel (its creator was also the owner of the Royal Bath Hotel next door at one time). This is the Russell Cotes Museum. Commissioned by Russell Cotes (if you hadn’t guessed!) as a birthday present for his wife (must show this to Mr R!) and built in 1897 in a completely Art Nouveau Style…
Despite still being resident, the Russell Cote’s donated the house as a Museum to the town of Bournemouth in 1907, and it’s doors are still open to the public today.
As well as giving the best birthday presents, Mr R.C. had a great eye for art – there are countless beautiful paintings and sculptures dotted about the house (many by female British artists), and on top of all that the couple were avid travellers.
The house is stuffed with countless mementos of their trips abroad. In modern day terms, I guess they would be described as hoarders (albeit of the best kind) – when the museum undertook some renovation work recently, they even found artefacts under the floor boards! This gives me much hope, as despite always bringing something or other back from my own travels, I am not quite that bad yet!
I loved that the rooms are pretty much how they would have been when their owners still resided there. The views from Mrs R.C’s Bedroom overlooking the pier are just stunning…
The whole place is pretty accessible and welcoming – from the friendly staff on reception, to the bright and stylish cafe. Throughout you are encouraged to take your time generally appreciating (and wondering how on earth they managed to cram so much stuff in to one house), but should you be tempted to take the weight off, I loved these humorous reminders that some chairs are in fact exhibits, not perching places.
This Museum is well worth donating a couple of hours of exploration time to (I recommend first thing on a Sunday morning – its particularly quiet!). And, although I was still full from my fantastic breakfast, I wish I had had room to complete my “UK Food Bingo Card” with a cream tea in the cafe afterwards.
The Russell Cotes Museum, East Cliff Promenade, Bournemouth, BH1 3AA
Opening Hours: 10-5 Tuesday – Sunday (plus Bank Holiday Mondays)
Admission – A suggested (should be obligatory in my opinion) £5.