Towner Contemporary Art Museum

Devonshire Park College Road Eastbourne East Sussex BN21 4JJ

The residents of Eastbourne are a lucky lot: not only do they have the scenic splendours of Beachy Head right on their doorstep, they also have one of the best contemporary art galleries in the south – the Towner. Despite what you might think from its attention-grabbing, sleekly modern exterior, the Towner has actually been around for getting on for a century; it only moved to its award-winning new home in Eastbourne’s 'Cultural Quarter' a few years back. There are four or five excellent exhibitions a year (all free of charge), which run alongside rotating displays from the museum’s 4000-odd-strong permanent collection of modern and contemporary art. If you want a privileged peek at the parts of the collection not on display it’s well worth forking out £5 for the behind-the-scenes Collection Store tour (Sat & Sun 3–4pm), which takes you up to the state-of-the-art storage room, where sliding screens jam-packed with paintings are rolled out for your very own private view. The Towner is actually one of several contemporary art collections along this artsy stretch of Sussex coastline: the nearby De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea and the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings have joined with the Towner to create a ‘Coastal Culture Trail’, which encourages you to visit all three and make a weekend of it.

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