The Higgins Museum, Bedford

Uniting three previous cultural centres, this recently refurbished set of buildings date back 200 years and have a rich history of use. The Higgins family ran a brewery from the site and built their home next to it. Cecil Higgins, a keen collector of fine and decorative arts, sold the brewery business and focused on his ambition to found a museum and art gallery. In 1949 the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery opened its doors, with a collection of ceramics, glass and objets d'art. A trust fund enabled the purchase of more decorative arts, but also art and furniture. In the late 1980s many 20th century prints were collected, including some by Picasso, Lichstenstein and Durer, together with etchings by Whistler and linocuts by Edward Bawden. Bedford Museum was formed in the 1960s from collections in the city, with many residents of Bedford donating finds from around the world.

The complex of buildings were closed for redevelopment from 2010 and reopened in June 2013. It features some of the greatest designers of the past 500 years and has wonderful exhibits from Morris & Co textiles, William de Morgan ceramics and furniture and dresses from Liberty & Co. In the Higgins' home, displays include a laid dining table illustrating the Georgian era elaborate dining rituals.

Other galleries continue the story of Bedfordshire and its history, with a fascinating display about the use of the location during World War Two as the BBC's HQ 'Somewhere in England'.

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Good to know

Directions: The Higgins Bedford is 0.9 miles from Bedford Midland Railway Station. Follow the sign posted route to the Town Centre and Art Gallery & Museum, about 20 min walk. Alternatively, there are taxis readily available at the railway station. There are frequent services from London (St Pancras International) with trains arriving and departing every 30 mins. Train services run from Brighton, Gatwick Airport, London stations, St Albans and Luton through to Bedford. A separate service runs from Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Kettering and Wellingborough to Bedford, and on to St Pancras International.

Take the train for a picturesque way to arrive, take the Marston Vale Line from Bletchley to St John's Station, Bedford calling at local stations. Follow the signposted route from the station to the Town Centre, and to the Art Gallery & Museum. Connections are available at Bletchley from Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard. Further details can be found on the Marston Vale Community Rail website.

Nearby Art Trail points of interest