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***There are some empty display cases in Settlement Gallery and  Somewhere in England due to flooding. ***


Our fine art collection consists of watercolours, drawings and prints which cannot be on permanent display as they will become damaged from too much exposure to light. We display the collection in themed exhibitions but sometimes your favourites may not be out. If there is a particular work you are coming in especially to see, please call or email in advance to check whether it is on display.  


Current Exhibitions and Displays:

Peter Brathwaite

Peter Brathwaite – Rediscovering Black Portraiture

Opening April – Free Entry

During the first lockdown in 2020, with all his performances cancelled, local baritone, artist, broadcaster and writer Peter Brathwaite began researching and reimagining more than 100 artworks. These artworks featured portraits of black sitters, as part of the online #GettyMuseumChallenge to use household objects to restage famous paintings. He called the photographic series Rediscovering Black Portraiture.

Brathwaite's exhibition at The Higgins Bedford features a collection of his most fascinating images. His works emphasise issues of power, privilege, and identity, as well as the absence or marginalisation of black individuals in European art.


Peter Brathwaite’s restaged version of The Virgin of Guadalupe, and the original artwork, right. Anon, ‘The Virgin of Guadalupe’. Oil painting, 1745. Wellcome Collection. Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) / Cropped from original and colour saturated.


Edward Bawden in his Studio, image commissoned by Braintree and Witham Times

Edward Bawden and Me

Opens 17 February 2024

Wixamtree and Connections Galleries – Free Entry

This exciting exhibition will celebrate the work of Edward Bawden through the work of a new generation of artists.


The exhibition is curated by Edward’s good friend, illustrator and printmaker, Chris Brown. Chris has chosen twenty well-known artists working today to produce art works inspired by Bawden. This new collection will be shown alongside the works from The Higgins Bawden archive that have inspired them.


Chris has chosen a diverse range of artists and makers from different disciplines to make this exhibition an eclectic, fun loving celebration of Edward’s work. 


More information about the exhibition can be found here.



On the Wings of a Wire Bird resize

Wings of a Wire Bird - Sophie Gresswell

3 February -  9 June 2024

Sir William Harpur Gallery – Free Entry 

The culmination of a yearlong project to explore interconnected heritage. Following a residency to reach roots on the island of Saint Helena for the first time, Sophie Gresswell shares experiences and encourages discussion on the global mix of heritage which defines ‘British’ identity.


The exhibition highlights connections between us, our migration through generations, the borderlessness of Britishness, and the people met along our journey. The work includes contributions by Bedford’s Odissi dancers from Ananda arts and the Caribbean Senior Citizens group from Queens Park, who worked with Sophie to explore and redefine objects and narratives present within The Higgins, Bedford collections. To find out more about Sophie's project, you can visit


More information about the exhibition can be found here.



Cultural Roots Sound SystemCultural Roots Logo

Cultural Roots Sound System Museum

7 October 2023 – 28 April 2024

Outside Somewhere in England Gallery – Free Entry

Recently showcased at The Pride of Place Bedford shop, the Sound System Museum is live at The Higgins this October. Cultural Roots Sound System Museum was started in 1979 by a group of friends in Bedford. This equipment provided valuable entertainment to Caribbean households in Bedford, owing to discrimination excluding them from socialising in local bars and clubs.


The Sound System Museum has preserved this precious memorabilia and hope it will jog the memories and hearts of yesteryear. Visitors can see first-hand what it takes to build and run a reggae sound system and experience this at special events and workshops.


River display

Bedford River Display

21 – 31 May 2024

Entrance Foyer – Free Entry

The Bedford River project will be showcasing a curated selection of both commissioned and community artworks crafted over the past year. In a spirited tribute to the river, the project has brought together a diverse array of creative expressions, including music, sculptures, paintings, illustrations, photography, storytelling, and poetry. Notably, the project team has sparked inspiration among school students, motivating them to craft imaginative responses to the river. Core to the project has been the belief that the river belongs to us all, and this is reflected in the collection.

The project endeavours to inspire all residents of Bedford, irrespective of their backgrounds, to unite in celebration, conservation, and shared responsibility for our cherished River Great Ouse.



Bedford Car Club

25 May 2024 onwards

Somewhere in England Foyer – Free Entry

This display celebrates the history and heritage of Bedford Car Club. In February 1906 Bedford Automobile Club was founded and in December 1907 were meeting at the Swan Hotel, Bedford High Street. In 1914 the Bedford & District Motorcycle Club was formed and was meeting at The Lion Hotel. By the 1920s these two clubs had merged and became known as Bedford Motor Club. Members took part in competitions, trials, driving tests, gymkhanas, treasure hunts, dinner dances etc. In 1953 some members broke away to form Bedford Automobile Enthusiasts Club concentrating on the competition aspects. For three decades the two clubs in Bedford co-existed, but in the early 1980s united as Bedford Car Club, going on to great success in various forms of motorsport such as autotests and rallying. During the 2000s club motorsport declined and nationally motorsport was suspended over the period of the Covid 2019 pandemic. Bedford Car Club closed in 2023, donating their heritage trophies to The Higgins Bedford, which are shared with visitors in this display. 


break the stigma collage

Let's Be Open About Mental Health to Break the Stigma

Castle Lane Cases Outside The Higgins Bedford, Free Entry


The Higgins Bedford has worked with the Let's Be Open About Mental Health campaign to showcase this display of poems, artwork and messages made by local people, to give encouragment to people who may be struggling with their mental health at this current time.


Find out more about the display here >


poish independence

Poland: in Bedford

Great Bedfordians Gallery, Free Entry


Explore the stories of Bedford's Polish community in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Polish Independence. Follow their experiences of early life in Poland, memories of migration, journeys to Britain and life after settling in Bedford.


Find out more about the exhibition here >


arion on the dolphin

Spotlight on the Collections

Spotlight Gallery, Free Entry 

The Spotlight Gallery currently hosts a display of Greek coins from our collections. Future displays will explore a wide range of themes, including objects and their stories from our stores, recent archaeological finds from around Bedford and the Portable Antiquities Scheme.


Find out more about the display here > 



windrush poster

'Paved with Gold': Bedford's Windrush Generation

Online Exhibition

Explore the stories of the people that settled in Bedford, and the contributions they have made to the community in this online exhibition.


Find out more about the exhibition here >


International Women's Day - Pearl Thomson

Online Display


Celebrate the life of one of our Great Bedfordians; Pearl Thomson. Born in Jamaica, Pearl arrived in Bedford in 1956 and became the town's first female teacher from the Caribbean.


Find out more about the display here >