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Blue Sky Thinking: The Shorts Brothers Airships

6th May 2017 – 17th September 2017

2017 celebrates the centenary of airships being built here in Bedfordshire. The Shorts Brothers started building R.31, the first of their airships, at the Cardington sheds in 1917, as well as building homes for workers in the village that still heralds their name today, ‘Shortstown’.  Discover the story of three remarkable brothers; Oswald, Eustace and Horace and their vision for a British airship industry.  Come and understand more about the Zeppelin airship raids of WW1 and the impact of early airships on Bedfordshire and the wider world.         


Romance & Rebellion: The Art of the Victorians

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833 – 1898) Cupid Delivering Psyche, 1967, courtesy of the Trustees of Cecil Higgins Art Gallery


6th May 2017 – 17th September 2017

This new exhibition drawn from the internationally acclaimed Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection is a romp through Victorian art. No other period in art history has been so full of stylistic extremes from the older traditional artists to the Aesthetes, the Pre-Raphaelites to the Decadents and the Social Satirists to the Exquisites. The exhibition charts the period chronologically showing how these styles grew and flourished alongside one another. The exhibition features the work of J.M.W. Turner, Frederic, Lord Leighton, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James McNeill Whistler, Richard Dadd and Aubrey Beardsley.



A Walk in the Woods – A Celebration of Trees in British Art

Image credit: George Price Boyce (1826 – 1897) At Binsey near Oxford, 1862, watercolour on paper.

Opens 30th September 2017

This new exhibition from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery collection will celebrate the role of trees and woodland in British landscape painting. Works will include those by artists such as John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Francis Towne and Paul Nash. The exhibition will be produced in partnership with Professor Christiana Payne from Oxford Brookes University

The exhibition coincides with the anniversary of the 800th anniversary of the Tree Charter. The original tree charter was signed by Henry III to protect the rights of people to access and use the Royal Forests. On the 6th November 2017 a new Tree Charter will be launched led by the Woodland Trust which will establish a set of values that promotes and protects trees.