Friday, February 15, 2019

LGBT History Festival 2019


11am - 4pm

Celebrate LGBT History Month at the OUTing the Past Festival with a host of stall holders presenting information about LGBT History, LGBT rights, support and activism. Confirmed stalls include Schools Out UK, Q Youth Bedford and the Terrance Higgins Trust. Also, a dynamic range of speakers will present on themes including trans rights, sex education, suffrage and mermaids.


Keynote Speech by Stuart Milk


As the nephew of Harvey Milk, the iconic civil rights leader, Stuart has taken his uncle’s message of authenticity, example of courage, and the power of collaboration onto the global stage supporting local, regional and national human rights struggles and emerging LGBT communities on the ground in over 60 nations on six continents.

Stuart Milk will speak about his work and continuing the work of his uncle.

Image Courtesy of the Milk Foundation






‘The Oldest New Woman and Her Incorrigible Welsh Friend’

Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler will present the hidden histories of Victorian activists Frances Power Cobbe and Mary Charlotte Lloyd, exploring how they met in Rome, their activism as suffragists of the 1870s, campaigns against vivisection and some of the conversations they had between themselves and their friends about their lives and passions.

Are we nearly there yet?

Kate Hutchinson, Director of Wipe Out Transphobia, looks at the history of trans rights activism in the UK. Discover the various organisations and people who helped make strides forward for trans rights and how that shaped current activism. From the shadows to proud visibility.


Mermaids: A Twist in the Tale


What is it about mermaids that make them so popular with the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ people?

Sacha Coward explores the popular mythical figure of the mermaid, including the story behind the much beloved, but poorly understood Walt Disney classic ‘The Little Mermaid’.




Saturday, February 9, 2019

February Half Term Events




Make a masterpiece this half term in a selection of creative art and science workshops based on the exhibition 'We Are Five'.






Chromatography with Little Science Labs
Collage Conversations with local artist Kemi Onabule
Tuesday 12th February, £3
Imagine the portraits could talk, what would you chat about together? Create a portrait collage with a difference.

Abstract Chromatography with Little Science Labs
Wednesday 13th February, £3
Have fun experimenting with chromatography and create an abstract art work

Pop-Art Printing with local artist Katie Allen
Friday 15th February, £3
Get inspired by Andy Warhol and create your own pop-art prints.

Workshops start at 11am, 12:30 and 2pmlast an hour and are aimed at 5 to 13 year olds (not suitable for under 3’s). All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Places are filling up fast, so we recommend booking in advance by purchasing a ticket at The Higgins Reception. Unfilled places will be offered on a first come, first served basis on the day. Please note, we are currently unable to take bookings online or over the phone.

Check our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Up for Discussion




Discover the history of colourism and why it is still relevant today within the African and Caribbean community. Join in the discussion and voice your opinion on colourism as we ask: 'Black and Beautiful. How is it defined' and 'Why do people bleach their skin?'





The Higgins Bedford is working in collaboration with Nubian Teachings to deliver this event.








Click here for more information.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Edward Bawden: Home and Abroad

9th February 2019 - 26th January 2020
Edward Bawden Gallery - Free entry


Discover how Edward Bawden's travels home and abroad influenced his art. 


Explore the depictions of his immediate surroundings from the villages, churches and country lanes of his native rural Essex, to London's celebrated landmarks. 

Bawden also travelled extensively throughout his career, embarking on his first trip abroad to Italy aged 22. This was an experience which he recalled, 'gave me the biggest shock of my life'. Other destinations that influenced his work include Canada, Portugal and many parts of Africa and the Middle East. Each new visit added to Bawden's extensive visual repertoire and all are explored in this exhibition.




Home and Abroad Gallery Tour
Thursday 21st February, 12pm - 12:30pm
£3 (concessions £2.50), Booking Essential

Join Keeper of Fine and Decorative Art, Victoria Partridge, for a half an hour Gallery tour of new exhibition Edward Bawden - Home and Abroad.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Last Week of Bawden's Beasts

Ends on Sunday 27th January 2019
Edward Bawden Gallery – Free Entry

Edward Bawden (1903-1989) Aesop's Fables:
Ant and Grasshopper
, 1970
Copyright The Edward Bawden Estate
Explore celebrated artist Edward Bawden’s lifelong preoccupation with all manner of creatures including, delicate insects, farm grazers, domestic pets, exotic jungle and desert dwellers and fantastical shape-shifting beasts. The creatures that inhabit Bawden’s work reveal his extraordinary talent for visual expression and storytelling.

Inventive and humorous, Bawden put animals great and small to work in his commissions for book illustrations, advertisements and posters. This exhibition will feature Bawden’s work in a range of media throughout the course of his career, including his imaginative advertisements for Fortnum & Mason, and evocative prints of Aesop’s Fables.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Upcoming Events to Look Forward to in 2019

There are lots of new and exciting events coming to The Higgins Bedford this year. Below are just a few to look forward to in the upcoming months. 

Make sure to check our website regularly for the latest news on exhibitions and events at The Higgins Bedford. 

Edward Bawden in Portugal
Edward Bawden (1903—1989)
Edward Bawden in Portugal —Lisbon,
Lithograph after linocut, 1962 ©The Edward Bawden Estate.
Courtesy of the Trustees of the Cecil Higgins
 Art Gallery (The Higgins Bedford).

Edward Bawden: Home and Abroad
9th February 2019 - 26th January 2020
Free entry

Bawden was inspired by the villages, churches and country lanes of his native rural Essex. He also celebrated London's landmarks, its parks, gardens, bridges and stations.This exhibition shows how Bawden's immediate surroundings and overseas travels influenced his art. 



February Half Term
12th, 13th, 15th February
£3 Per Child



Inspired by the We Are Five exhibition, enjoy a variety of Creative Art and Science workshops aimed at 5 - 13 year olds with local artists.

Create portrait collages, pop art prints and abstract art. 

Click here for more information







OUTing The Past Festival

16th February, 11am - 4pm

The Higgins Bedford is very excited to be a hub venue for the second year for the national OUTing The Past Festival of LGBT History. 

February marks the beginning of LGBT History Month and the theme this year is Peace, Reconciliation and Activism.

As part of this event, there will be stall holders with information on LGBT History, rights, support and activism. In addition, there will be speakers on themes such as trans rights, sex education, suffrage and mermaids.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Holiday Opening Hours - Christmas 2018

Holiday Opening Hours - Christmas 2018

Monday 24th December - Closed
Tuesday 25th December - Closed
Wednesday 26th December - Closed
Thursday 27th December - Open 11am - 5pm
Friday 28th December - Open 11am - 5pm
Saturday 29th December - Open 11am - 5pm
Sunday 30th December - Open 2- 5pm
Monday 31st December - Closed
Tuesday 1st January - Closed
Wednesday 2nd January - Open 11am - 5pm

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Objects from our Collections and Other Tales

The Witch Bottle from Renhold.


BEDFM 8835.
Bellarmine Jug 17th Century.
From Renhold. Miss A Henley.
Walking under the trees and past the tall brick building of the museum, you might be surprised at what you can find inside The Higgins Bedford. Peeking out from behind the glass of the Curiosity Cabinet in the Collectors’ Gallery sits an unassuming jug with a bearded face and round belly.

Formally, he’s known as a Bartmann bottle but more casually he’s named as a Bellarmine Jug. Stoneware characters like him were made in Germany throughout the 16th and 17th Centuries. They were first used to store drink and later they were used to decant wine. However, somewhere within the 17th Century they acquired a more unusual use.

At the height of a period of superstition and paranoia, Bellarmine Jugs were employed as Witch Bottles. These were counter-magical devices that were used to protect individuals and households from unwanted spells and misfortune. They were often thought to trap and imprison evil incantations inside.

Traditionally, a folk healer would prepare the bottle by filling it with all sorts of ingredients. This could include a combination of the victim’s urine, hair and nail clippings. This was then mixed with a variety of rosemary, red wine, pins and needles, seawater, sand, thorns and oil. It was thought that any evil doing was to be impaled by the sharp objects, drowned by any liquids and sent away by the rosemary. After this, they were buried under fireplaces or hidden away in walls – they’ve even been found planted in the foundations of houses, thrown away in rivers and stashed in attics. For the spell to work fully, the bottle had to remain hidden and unbroken.

Our Bellarmine Jug is part of the Bedford Modern School Collection and was found in Renhold by Miss A Henley in March 1940. Which begs the question, why was this curious bottle buried here, in Bedfordshire? 

Come back soon for more or pop down to The Higgins to unlock more tales from other mysterious objects.

Written by Curatorial Volunteer Bronte

Monday, October 1, 2018

Exhibitions Opening on the 6th October


'Paved with Gold': Bedford's Windrush Generation

6th October 2018 - 24th March 2019
Connections Gallery - Free Entry


Explore the stories of Bedford’s Windrush Generation. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of The Empire Windrush's arrival from the Caribbean to England. The Higgins Bedford will showcase the memories of the people who settled in Britain in 1948 and after. 

Click here for more information about the exhibition.












We Are Five: The Higgins Art Collection Favourites Chosen by the People of Bedford

6th October 2018 – 24th March 2019
Wixamtree Gallery – Free Entry

It has been five years since The Higgins Bedford reopened following redevelopment work. To celebrate, we will be presenting paintings and prints chosen by the people of Bedford as well as works that have not been on display since we reopened.

Click here for more information about the exhibition.







Monday, September 24, 2018

Portable Antiquities Scheme

26th September, 28th November 2018, 30th January, 27th March 2019

1pm – 3pm


Digging in the garden? Metal detecting? Found something old and interesting? Thousands of archaeological objects are found every year by members of the public. Enjoy this opportunity to bring in any archaeological discoveries and find out more about them. Finds Liaison Officer, Matt Fittock will be on hand to record and ID all of your archaeological objects. 

Every find is important and will help to improve our knowledge of history and archaeology. Here are some fascinating archaeological objects from our own collection. Brooches are of particular interest as they are usually well preserved and can tell us much about the past. 




BEDFM 2005.17

A Medieval silver-gilt annular brooch found at Lidlington.

The inscription in Lombardic lettering reads,” I am the flower of good love”.

Brooches similar to this were fairly common personal ornaments in the medieval period. Often the inscriptions were designed to keep the owner safe from harm.












BEDFM 2014.91. 

Medieval silver annular brooch found near Wharley End , Bedford.

This brooch is in very good condition and must have been a sad loss to its last owner.






Find out more about the Scheme here: https://bit.ly/HigginsPAS

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a nationwide service run by the British Museum. To find out more about the service look on the website: www.finds.org.uk