Recommended Reviews

  • 5.0 star rating
    19/5/2010

    This venue is pretty cool, it's a massive building with three floors and kind of has a basic industrial feel, however it changes so much depending on what kind of event they have running on a given day. I visited recently and they had a modern arts exhibition which was very funky and unusual - intentional artistic graffiti covered the entire interior of the building which was definitely alternative! It is also in a great location, it's located right on the waterfront - so somewhere cool to pop into if you're wandering around this area on a sunny day!

    The Arnolfini has light and dark rooms for various artistic shows, as well as an independent arty cinema, a reading room, cafe and a gift shop - if you love you're art and checking out local talent then it's definitely somewhere worth dropping into. This place is somewhere that you definitely need to check the listings for before you visit - unless you don't mind a surprise - because the events they put on vary dramatically. The types of events include art exhibitions, live music, live art performances, films etc... I'd definitely recommend this venue, so check it out and pop on down!

  • 5.0 star rating
    8/10/2009

    This is an exhibition centre rather than a staid gallery - they have lots of live events including dance and talks. When a band has a film released you will often find the band performing here and the film showing together. They show old and independent films often in pairs so you can contrast and compare, and there will often be a talk which goes with it.
    The gallery art changes frequently, I have to say it is too often video installations for my tastes, and entrance to them is free.
    In the entrance way is a large blackboard - say 20 by 30 foot, which is painted to reflect the theme of the exhibitions. There has been some amazing murals up here so its worth poking your head around the door just to see that!

    The best bit, and the reason I come here regularly, is the bookshop. Crammed with books on all art subjects, there is also a wall of craft, art, photography and pop culture magazines. I have never seen Blag magazine for sale anywhere on this earth but they stock it here! They change their displays regularly to interesting themes - things like parcour, fixed gear bicycles, graffiti, making ugly toys.
    At the back they have a great selection of cards - bordering on bizarre and offensive which is just how I like them. They also stock a few gifts and books for children, all art-based and cool.
    Book shop is open until 8pm, although the galleries close at 6pm.

  • 5.0 star rating
    10/10/2009

    This is Bristol's centre for contemporary art. As well as a gallery, they've got stuff do with dance, film and music going on. Have a look through the listings to see if anything takes your fancy. There's some quite challenging stuff on, with some of the installations making absolutely no sense at all if you ask me.

    The gallery is free and definitely worth dropping in to if you're in the city centre looking for something to do. It changes frequently so I can't vouch for the quality of the art though there is a good video exhibition on right now. Similarly, their film showings are varied - they don't just show the latest releases - and you have to keep an eye out for something that interests you.

    The Arnolfini brings a little bit of culture to Bristol and seeing as it's free I'm definitely a fan.

  • 4.0 star rating
    2/5/2010

    Every city in the UK seems to have one these days, a white walled, faintly pretentious 'artspace' in which to house exhibitions of varying quality. Arnolfini is Bristol's, and it's not a bad one either.

    The space itself is pleasingly contemporary, and for every dreadful exhibition wallowing in pretensions to postmodernism (or postpostmodernism, or whatever the kids are calling it these days), there's something brilliant.

    Don't expect to while away an afternoon here, there's no permanent collection and the changing exhibitions are often relatively sparse. I find I normally - embarrassingly - spend more time in the gift shop than observing the art.

    My advice? Do take the time to pick up the leaflets and read through them, often everything becomes a lot clearer and it's a good idea to revisit the exhibition with the benefit of the artist's explanations. Plus it'll make the trip there feel a little more worthwhile...although, I tend to find a drink in the innovatively stylish cafe bar does the trick just as well...

  • 3.0 star rating
    19/5/2010

    The Arnolfini is a Bristol establishment that everyone I've met really cherishes. Mainly it is a contemporary art gallery, but also plays host to events, film screenings and dance and music performances.

    The entire gallery has three floors, and each is usually occupied with an exhibition. I've found that most times, there is one main exhibition that runs through the whole gallery, with maybe only one or two separate ones in smaller rooms.

    This place provides quite a hit and miss experience, of course depending on what you personally enjoy in art. I would say half the times that I've been here, I've enjoyed what the Arnolfini has to offer, and often leave quite inspired. However the other half of the time, I walk in and the whole space is taken up by children's activities, to try and engage them more in the exhibition that's on. This is great for the kids but creates quite a confusing atmosphere for the adults that walk in and expect to see more art, and instead see about 50 children in what looks like a giant activities room.

    The best thing to do before coming here is to check on their website for more information of the exhibitions, and you can come for the ones that tick your fancy, and avoid others that don't.

  • 5.0 star rating
    19/5/2010

    The Arnolfini is another Bristol institution and widely recognised in the art world as a major player in the South West. Part gallery, part cinema, and part bar, with a sprinkle of excellent art books and magazines for sale too, this lace should be on your list of things to see and do in Bristol if you are remotely interested in the arts.

    The emphasis here is very much on contemporary art, with the gallery regularly showcasing local, national and internationally renowned painters, sculptors, designers and performance artists. There are regular talks relating to each exhibition and the small theatre regularly shows international films, documentaries and plays.

    Art students take note: entrance to the gallery is free and there are regular talks throughout the life of each exhibition, which are free but best booked in advance. Attend one of these talks and you'll be sure to get brownie points from your tutor, as well as learning more about each exhibition.

    The café/bar is a little too trendy and therefore intimidating to me but if you do purchase anything be sure to move away from the garish Perspex panels and move outside where plenty of seating guarantees tranquil views of the harbour.

  • 4.0 star rating
    22/5/2010

    The Arnolfini, is similar to the tobacco factory in the way it manages to successfully house a whole host of different activities under one roof, it has  a bar a cinema and is also an art gallery. The art gallery is by far the most noteworthy of the three, and is widely recognised throughout the west of England.

    The gallery does a great job of showcasing local contemporary art, which often fits very well with the building that has the distinctive atmosphere that can only generated by the large converted industrial buildings.

    I would not recommend just urning up, make sure you find out whats on first and then pop along that way you wont be let down.

  • 3.0 star rating
    1/6/2009

    Like a lot of people, my main experience of the Arnolfini is the cafe rather than the art gallery.

    The cafe's been re-opened by the management team behind the Bordeaux Quay on the opposite side of the water. As a result you get some interesting beers and some absolutely delicious cakes, but they're on the expensive side. The cafe has definitely improved.

    There's outside seating which is great on a sunny afternoon, though it can get very windy.

    Besides the cafe, there's an excellent art bookshop, which also sells some very funny postcards. It's interesting to browse though I don't know how many people stump up the full asking prices.

    The exhibitions (yes it's an art gallery too) are a bit variable. They always lean towards 'contemporary art', for better or worse.

    Upstairs there's an art cinema (to be honest they've not shown anything I'd be interested in seeing, and not just because I'm an art philistine), and a resource centre, which both have slightly different opening times to the rest of the building.

    • Qype User rossan…
    • Bristol
    • 29 friends
    • 120 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    18/11/2007

    The Arnolfini is a great place to go whether you have money or not. There are always interesting and free art exhibitions - the last one I went to was very well thought out, the room was dark and there was a walkway that was made so that if you stood in front of a particular photograph, a spotlight would shine on it. It was wonderfully eerie, with strange images of people who looked almost elemental. Afterwards I looked round the shop and marvelled at the artsy books and interesting postcards and notepads. Definitely a place I would spend loads of money in if I had any!

    The bar is quite expensive, and not really worth it, but the food is really good.

    They also have gigs here sometimes, including the wonderful "Hawk and a Hacksaw". It was completely sold out when I tried to go, so you should probably Get tickets early.

    • Qype User day_dr…
    • Bristol
    • 7 friends
    • 48 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    24/11/2007

    I love this gallery and it is free. It is a Sunday tradition for us a couple times a year... We stroll down the hill to the harbour side and cross the bridge onto the pebbled street, soaking up the atmosphere, the hum of alfresco diners and the sax man.

    The first time I visited Arnolfini, as we entered, we stumbled across the first exhibit which was an interactive one. A multi-cubed bookshelf displayed a selection of shoes and you had to swap yours for one of these pair for your journey upstairs (not sure how they didn't have someone walk (!) away with their exhibit shoes or a visitors new pair of Jimmy Choos).

    Set over 3 floors there are various rooms - movie, quiet, noise, dark, light, etc. - with a variety of thought provoking contemporary art exhibits. Be warned, there are lots of 'guards' on hand, as often the exhibits are just so tempting to touch.

    • Qype User sushil…
    • Bristol
    • 7 friends
    • 179 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    18/11/2008

    Another harborside venue, with a large area on the waterfront to sit and watch the boats, birds and people during the day and evening.

    The bar area was redone a few years ago and has more than a basic pub selection. The seating is interesting, though you may have to share a table with strangers (not always a bad thing).

    I've seen a few exhibits over the years, some are well worth seeing and a few fell flat, but this can happen anywhere in any gallery.

    The bookstore is amazing, and you can find all sorts of quirky gifts as well as books there. Even if you aren't interested in the current exhibits, it's a place worth going to.

    • Qype User teejl…
    • Bristol
    • 2 friends
    • 39 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    6/11/2007

    Located at the heart of Bristol's harbourside, Arnolfini is one of Europe's leading centres for the contemporary arts. Amidst the new garish post modern attempts in the city centre, this stylish building houses plenty of free galleries and exhibitions to visit and an excellent outdoor bar seating area. Prices for food and drink are fairly high but bring your own and enjoy the sun on the waterfront for pennies.
    Galleries, bookshop and a box office are all on offer. A must visit for any tourist or local visiting the city centre.

    • Qype User erin…
    • Bristol
    • 0 friends
    • 28 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    16/11/2007

    The Arnolfini is at the cutting edge of the modern Art scene. It host some of the most critically aclaimed exhibitions in the country, and best of all its FREE!

    Its nice just to wander in and have a look around. It has a really relaxing atmosphere and its full of interesting people. There is also a nice (if expensive) cafe and a good quality bookshop.

    • Qype User mellym…
    • Bristol
    • 0 friends
    • 52 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    27/11/2008

    Hmm, a bit too self-conciously arty at times for my liking but I can't deny that it's worth a go now and again. I can't really be doing with the cafe because that seems to be the Arnolfini at its worse - too posey, no content.
    But the book shop is fantastic and a great source of information and entertainment. Their range of magazines is impressive and covers titles not easily found in other shops.
    As for the art - there are times I just don't get it. There have been plenty of ??? moments for me at the Arnolfini. But that doesn't mean the place is without merit and just because I don't get it doesn't mean it's not art. In fact, if I don't get it that probably means it is art.

  • 5.0 star rating
    10/11/2009

    The Arnolfini is the equivalent of the Baltic in Newcastle and the Tate Modern in London. Located in an old warehouse on the floating harbour, this lofty building is the perfect venue for visiting exhibitions, dance performances and educational events alike. Make sure you visit when there is actually something on, as they have short changeover periods between exhibitions, but if you do, it's not a problem as there is a well stocked bookshop, cinema and cafe/bar too. And if the name baffles you, don't worry, it'll sink into your Bristolian vocabulary soon enough.

    • Qype User hayle…
    • Bristol
    • 102 friends
    • 17 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    3/7/2008

    I haven't been into the gallery yet, but the bookshop is amazing, full of books and magazines you probably wont find in many other places!

    • Qype User maxmcc…
    • Bristol
    • 5 friends
    • 62 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    3/11/2008

    The Arnolfini supplies the most contemporary in exhibitions, film, live art, dance, music and literature. Located on Bristol's harbourside. Free entry to the galleries and a trendy bar with seating both inside and outside, over looking the docks, the Arnolfini has been on the map for decades.
    Video link: uk.youtube.com/watch?v=s…

    • Qype User stilla…
    • Bristol
    • 4 friends
    • 67 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    20/11/2008

    I love the arnolfini for the variety and the interesting exhibitions. I try to go every few weeks and the installations are always really varied in the medium and the content. I have seen videos of art, cities made of sugar, plastic and paper creations, photographs etc. Just superb. It's a real bonus that it's free and the book store downstairs is really interesting. I haven't been to the cafe yet but it looks nice and chilled.

    • Qype User JenJe…
    • Bristol
    • 0 friends
    • 40 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    22/11/2007

    Since being refurbished last year the Arnolfini has re-established itself as one of Bristols best alternative art centres. Hosts films, exhibitions, theatre, poetry and more it offers Bristolians and Bristol visitors a chance to look beyond the hollywood mainstream and enjoy old classics alongside new material. Very accessible bookshop that you can brouse comfortably for hours in, baby changing and reasonably priced healthy menu offering tuna steaks, stuffed peppers or the reliable BLT.

    • Qype User Auleli…
    • Bristol
    • 0 friends
    • 37 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    27/11/2007

    The Arnolfini is an artistic institution with a long history dating back to 1961. A recent film festival about Africa brought me to the Arnolfini. It was an impressive space, clean and airy with a modern café. It also stocks visually and hard to find magazines. The cinema hall was large and comfortable

    • Qype User tony_r…
    • Bristol
    • 4 friends
    • 1 review
    4.0 star rating
    19/12/2010

    Dropped into the Arnolfini Cafe yesterday. I really love the space & the staff were lovely. It was a freezing cold day but they serve this amazing Hot Apple & Ginger drink. Prettyy well cured the cold I was developing!
    Recommend it - great location on the docks too.

    • Qype User coffee…
    • Plymouth
    • 3 friends
    • 90 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    18/11/2008

    Sitting outside the Arnolfini, legs dangling over the harbourside on a sunny summer afternoon is a Bristol tradition. Many happy memories. The inside bar isn't half bad either since the re-vamp a couple of years ago. Great to visit on an evening if you're not a fan of the massive drinking halls on the otherside of the bridge.

    • Qype User chuape…
    • Cambridge, Canada
    • 3 friends
    • 24 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    8/1/2009

    I'm not a huge fan of contemporary art, or even of art or museums for that matter, but I had so much fun just wandering around Arnolfini. It's well-sized, unlike the huge galleries such as Tate Modern and the British Museum. The exhibits are interesting, and interactive, so that even an art-idiot such as myself can enjoy it!

    • Qype User bristo…
    • Bristol
    • 3 friends
    • 10 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    5/6/2009

    If you want to see quality contemporary art from international artists then this is a must visit!

    • Qype User Janner…
    • Plymouth
    • 0 friends
    • 133 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    25/10/2010

    Good cafe and bookshop and often good exhibitions. Well converted building and handy site.

    • Qype User sheepp…
    • Bristol
    • 8 friends
    • 34 reviews
    2.0 star rating
    2/10/2008

    not everyone's cup of tea. if you like modern and incomprehensible then its for you. if you like arduous and anal books then its for you. that said its free which for me saves it from being a one star (except when they show anything interesting which they lock in the secret room!!). Oh, and bar/cafe is okay too.

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