Towner Art Gallery

Towner Art Gallery

At a glance


  • Arts

Other details

Geographical remit: 
National - Britain


Towner presents an ambitious and high quality programme of temporary and collection-based exhibitions of twentieth century and contemporary art, and inspiring creative activities for 160,000 visitors each year including 55,000 participants of its Learning Programme.

It is a nationally and internationally significant gallery and an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). Founded in 1920 as a result of a bequest by Alderman John Chisholm Towner to create ‘an art gallery for the people’, this founding ethos remains at the heart of Towner’s mission.

In 2023 Towner will have been collecting art for one hundred years. Landscape is at the heart of the Collection which dates back to Alderman John Chisholm Towner’s original bequest in 1922 to create ‘an art gallery for the people’ of Eastbourne. From Victorian paintings of landscapes, animals and children by popular artists of the time, it grew through acquisitions of Sussex landscape paintings, extending to include pictures by Sussex artists regardless of subject matter and finally to work by non-Sussex artists. Towner’s collection now boasts almost 5,000 works. It is best known for its twentieth century British art including the broadest and most significant body of work by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) – as well as a growing collection of international contemporary art and moving image works. The strength of the Towner collection lies in its holding of landscape based and coastal works and more recently its acquisitions themed around place and environment. Our programme includes temporary exhibitions of work by leading national and international contemporary artists, which alongside collection shows inspires conversations on wide-ranging contemporary issues and visual art.


Towner presents a varied and balanced programme of exhibitions, events and creative activities which are inspired by the collection and its broad themes of place and environment. Our expertise lies in presenting historical work alongside diverse contemporary practice for conversations about our pasts and future, creating experiences for everyone that challenge, inspire and connect. Towner has a strong track record in attracting diverse audiences and works closely in partnership with local community organisations and vulnerable groups. The learning programme, which has recently been relaunched as Towner Art School, is considered exemplary by Arts Council England. It designs its programme inspired by its exhibitions and collection with its audiences as far as possible, to ensure relevance, build connection with audiences and deliver positive impact. It is recognised for its work with vulnerable groups, particularly those with lived experience of mental health issues, supporting them to grow in confidence and resilience to self-manage their conditions. There is increasing demand for our activities. Families are a key audience, as are diverse groups such as those living with disabilities. We support diverse artists and practice through artist-led professional development, commissioning, work space during the annual Summer School and showcasing opportunities.

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