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Top museums and galleries for culture vultures in Kent

By Kingfisher Visitor Guides

You’ll fill your Kent travel itinerary with visits to museums and galleries in a flash! Walk in the footsteps of famous authors, delve into ancient history and buy treasures created by local artists to take home with you.


Did you know that Jane Austen wrote Pride & Prejudice shortly after visiting Goodnestone Park Gardens? Combined with Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, perhaps inspiration is in the water in Canterbury! Find it yourself while strolling around the enchanting landscapes of Goodnestone Park Gardens and visiting the majestic Canterbury Cathedral.

The works of Victorian animal painter Thomas Sidney Cooper are on display at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, and you’ll find plenty of interactive programmes for kids. Just a short stroll from Canterbury Cathedral, Castle Fine Art exhibits works from a huge range of popular artists across three floors. Can’t wait to buy up big with original art? Head to Lilford Gallery to find exciting contemporary pieces.

Read more: Top 10 reasons to visit Kent 


Creativity is on display throughout bohemian Whitstable, from quaint boutiques to fascinating museums. The Harbour Gallery is a hub of eclectic art including wildlife sculptures, 3D glass painting and evocative landscape paintings. Enjoy a scrumptious meal with sea views at Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre, then check out two gallery spaces with revolving exhibitions.

Child exploring at a museum

Kids and adults alike will love to explore Kent’s fascinating museums

Maritime treasures large and small await at Whitstable Community Museum and Gallery. Get your camera ready for memorable photos with an 1830 locomotive, a 1948 whelk boat and an 1867 fire engine. Learn about Whitstable’s famous oyster industry while the kids have fun playing with interactive displays, where they’ll hunt for fossil shark teeth and sit at Victorian school desks.

Tunbridge Wells

The elegant, colonnaded walkway of the Pantiles is art in itself and it’s dotted with stunning art galleries. The Fairfax Art Gallery features paintings and sculptures by award-winning and emerging artists, with over 100 works in stock. At The Spa Gallery, Philip Bret-Day buys and sells collectable art with a focus on Georgian optical views and Deco fashion.

Art Gallery

Art lovers will love a visit to Tunbridge Wells’ stunning art galleries

Housed in a 15th-century timber-framed farmhouse, the Cranbrook Museum offers a glimpse at local history with sewing machines, period clothes and lovely gardens. If nothing but fine art will do, you’ll find it at Beumée Contemporary Fine Art. The gallery specialises in luxury original art by distinguished artists from across the globe.


Kent’s creative side is alive and well in Maidstone, with a number of galleries and museums to keep you hopping all day. The light-filled exhibition spaces at the Maidstone Museum are filled with curiosities among more than 600,000 pieces housed in an Elizabethan Manor House. Highlights include the only Egyptian adult mummy in Kent and Japanese decorative art.

Get up close to more than 60 horse-drawn vehicles and carriages at the Maidstone Carriage Museum, located on Mill Street. The collection was a gift from Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake, who was Mayor of Maidstone 12 times. For a family day out, look no further than the open-air museum of Kent Life. You’ll meet horses, cows, pigs and chickens at the working farm. Step back in time to World War II at Vintage Village and watch the coal fired Oast House fire up in autumn.

Isle of Thanet

One of Britain’s most famous artists, painter JMW Turner regularly visited the seaside town of Margate in the late 18th century. He stayed at Mrs Booth’s guest house on the seafront which is now the site of Turner Contemporary, a magnificent building designed by David Chipperfield. Enjoy a rolling programme of exhibitions, events and education opportunities inside. Keep the theme going with a walk on the Magical Margate Trail.

Turner Contemporary in Kent

Make sure a trip to Turner Contemporary is on your list of things to do

In the heart of town, workspaces and residential studios host creative locals with shops and galleries. Need more? Take a quick drive to Ramsgate and the York Street Gallery, home to the studio of local artist Mike Samson. At Manston, delve into the history of World War II at the Spitfire and Hurricane Museum, and RAF Manston History Museum.

Read more

Dining by the sea in Kent

Great days out for culture vultures in Kent

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Image credits: ©Kent Life Heritage Farm Park; Michael D Beckwith/Unsplash; Pavel Losevsky/; Thanet Tourism; Trinity Theatre

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