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Arnolfini - est 1961

‘If you ask, ‘What do people want?’ the answer, as we would all say if we’re honest with ourselves, is that we want the familiar; something that doesn’t challenge our perceptions. ‘Arnolfini is about challenging perceptions’. Thus wrote Jeremy Rees, Arnolfini’s founding Director. This challenge was never regarded as a dry endeavour for a select few – rather, it was something to enliven, to relish, an exciting and potentially life-changing offer for the broadest of possible audiences. Rees said he had wanted to put an inscription above the door; ‘Enjoy yourself!’’

We’re delighted to have added that to the entrance for all to see when they come into Arnolfini’s home at Bush House.

Arnolfini was founded in 1961. Since then, we have shown the work of tens of thousands of artists from all over the world to tens of millions of people here in Bristol. Paula Rego, Jannis Kounellis, John Akomfrah, Grayson Perry, Rachel Whiteread, Peter Doig, Richard Long, Veronica Ryan, Chantal Joffe, Sonia Boyce and Frank Bowling, to name just a few – as well as supporting talent from in and around Bristol.

This rich history is documented in our archive, a collection which includes curatorial files, publicity material, and photographic, moving image and audio documentation.

Most of our archive is now available to view at Bristol Archives, while work continues to make the remainder publicly accessible. Please see for further information, or email

In addition, we regularly explore aspects of our heritage through our programme and engagement work. Please check the links below to find out more.

If you have any memories you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you via