Enjoying Art in Norwich Itinerary

Enjoying Art in Norwich Itinerary

For those with a keen interest in art, Norwich is the perfect destination to head to with many works available to see free of charge. Whilst there is no official art trail to follow, the locations below all offer incredible art for themed itineraries. 

Art in Norwich; The Norwich School of Painters; Norwich 20; Norwich University of the Arts; Norfolk Contemporary Art Society; The Hall’s Civic Collection; Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery; The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts world-class Norman Foster building housing works by Picasso, Bacon and Giacometti; Norwich Cathedral, The Assembly House; The Undercroft, Country & Eastern, Fairhurst Gallery and Outpost. 

Day One

Start the day at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (paid entry, the castle is open – the Keep will reopen in summer). The permanent collections on display in the art galleries span from the 17th to the 20th century. Featured artists include The Norwich School, Sir Alfred Munnings, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, Edward Burne-Jones and members of the Dutch School.  

Not to be missed is the soaring oil on canvas of the Tower of Babel by Tobias Verhaecht and the magnificent 17th century painting ‘The Paston Treasure’, commissioned to display a family’s extravagant collection. 

In all there are five galleries which include the world’s largest public collection of works by the Norwich School of Artists, the first regional society of artists established in England; notable members include John Crome, John Sell Cotman, Joseph Stannard and George Vincent. 

Paintings and sketches by Alfred Munnings, John Arnseby Brown and Edward Seago whose works show the effects that are possible when artists paint in the open air. 

Large and atmospheric landscapes so popular in the Victorian period set out in a style fashionable during the 19th century and all have a local connection through their subject, artist or collector. Keep an eye out for the famous Edward Burne-Jones work ‘Annunciation’ a gift from Lord Battersea, a well-known Pre-Raphaelite art collector who enjoyed many holidays in Norfolk. 

A variety of artworks and sculpture typical of those seen in an English country house during 1700 – 1830. 

If you are still hungry for more, pop into Country & Eastern (free, open Monday – Saturday, 9.30am – 5pm) who have a small museum named the South Asia Collection. 

Norwich Castle

Norwich Castle

Day Two 

In 2023 the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts became the first museum in the UK to offer ‘pay if and what you can afford’. This was quickly followed by then becoming the first museum in the world to recognise ‘art as living’. It was revolutionary. They actively encourage you to hug a Henry Moore! 

The Sainsbury Centre is one of the most important public university art galleries in Britain. It was founded in 1973 at the University of East Anglia (UEA) with the support of one of the nation’s great philanthropic families, Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury. They donated their extraordinary art collection which includes works dating from prehistory to the late twentieth century from across the globe. A radical new building by Norman Foster was designed to house the collection and this was his first public work. 

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park (free) sits in 350 acres of beautiful parkland on the UEA campus and is the perfect place for visitors to be inspired amongst nature. The park is the largest of its type in Norwich to enjoy outdoor art, architecture and the natural environment. The Sculpture Park includes important works by Henry Moore, Elisabeth Frink, Lynn Chadwick, Liliane Lijn, Antony Gormley and internationally acclaimed installation artist and sculptor Cristina Iglesias. 

In 2024 the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts addresses life’s ‘Big Questions’. Against a backdrop of fake news, elaborate scams and the burgeoning presence of AI, the Norwich museum will ponder whether we are experiencing a time when increasingly sophisticated technology can distort reality and diminish our own sense of authenticity. 

The dynamic 2024 programme consists of five key exhibitions commencing at various dates from February – ‘In Event of Moon Disaster’, ‘Liquid Gender, Jeffrey Gibson: I can choose’, ‘Rashaad Newsome: In the Absence of Evidence, We Create Stories’ and ‘The Camera Never Lies’ –bringing together some of the world’s leading artists and creative thinkers. 

This a great 2-3 hour + visit, with a café and excellent restaurant at the Centre. Guided tours of the Centre are also offered.