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“Should try harder”

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
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Day-Trip to Canterbury and Dover from London
Ranked #6 of 108 things to do in Canterbury
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge is an Art Gallery, Library and Visitor Information Centre situated in the heart of historic Canterbury. This award winning facility provides state-of-the-art exhibition galleries, excellent educational facilities and a varied programme of events for all ages. The building takes its name from its benefactor, Dr James George Beaney, a Canterbury-born man of modest background who studied medicine before emigrating to Australia, where he found his success. Upon his death in 1891, Dr Beaney left money in his will to the city of Canterbury to build an ‘Institute for Working Men’ with amenities for men from poor backgrounds such as his own. His patronage was fundamental in building the Beaney Institute: a new home for the Canterbury Royal Museum and Free Library, now known as The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge. A cultural hub in East Kent, praised for its welcoming atmosphere, providing a range of services under one roof, uniting art, heritage, books, ideas, information and collections. Whether you are a frequent Library user, a teacher on a Schools Workshop, a parent enjoying the perfect cup of coffee in our Cafe or an inquisitive explorer studying our treasures from the Ancient worlds; The Beaney is a building for everyone.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Stairs / elevator
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Should try harder”
Reviewed September 21, 2013 via mobile

Moved from London to Canterbury 3 yrs ago & for most of that time The Beaney under was construction (opened Sept 2012). Eagerly awaited its opening- have been sadly disappointed at end product.
It's just so dull! There's v little for children: just drawers with themed toys in each gallery. The effect of this is my 2 yr old screaming over farm toys ("moo!") whilst gallery goers trying to enjoy farmyard oil paintings can't concentrate and glare at us. This stuck-in-a-corner-afterthought approach doesn't work: why not follow approach of EVERY proper museum (Natural history & Science etc, etc) and have interactive exhibits? And spaces/ exhibitions for families? The curators shd look at other museums & copy best practice. What's there now (paid for thru my local taxes) is poor and old fashioned: Canterbury deserves better.

Visited September 2013
2 Thank GiorgiaBrown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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485 reviews from our community

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English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
44 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Free little museum, worth an hour”
Reviewed September 12, 2013 via mobile

Small museum containing works from local artists and a hodgepodge of artifacts from several countries. Interesting cabinet of curiosities. Except the special exhibits, the museum is all free and could take an hour or so of browsing. Would not go out my way to see it, though there's a great TI there and a little cafe. Just off of high street, near the eastbridge hospital.

Visited September 2013
Thank M N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
42 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“A beautiful Venue for Art”
Reviewed September 1, 2013

Right in the middle of town, in a beautiful medieval building...
several different artists exhibit in this setting; there is also a lovely little cafe to sit and enjoy a spot of tea....

Visited August 2013
Thank bandaidslsJerusalem
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dover, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
507 reviews
215 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 203 helpful votes
“Nice building but a little soulless”
Reviewed August 26, 2013 via mobile

First visit to the Beaney since it was refurbished and I was disappointed. The old place had the Victorian feel the the exhibits lived into. Now it's like any other new museum etc light glossy pretentious and quite empty. I am very disappointed that the regimental museum for the Buffs has been dismantled and most it's exhibits sent to the national army museum. This is typical. Are they embarrassed of brave Kentish men from the days of Empire. Political correctness. We have Margate Tate for hoorah Henry niche Art, whats wrong with history. I didn't linger.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Dirtbag7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canterbury, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Style over substance.”
Reviewed August 14, 2013

Not enough curatorial rigour in my view. There seems to be no coherence or contextual explanation and too much focus on the building and not enough exploration of importance of art movements post 1950 in Kent. No Leach, Peter Blake, Ian Drury etc. An opportunity missed. The hidden gems, Joseph Conrad for example, languish in the un promoted Heritage Museum. A place, by happenstance, which has the most knowledgeable staff of any museum or gallery I have visited in the last 20 years.

Visited August 2013
4 Thank Christine S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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