For centuries, Bristol has been one of Britain’s principal port towns, and due to its maritime links across the world it quickly developed a famously diverse community. No stranger to people from all cultures and of all requirements, Bristol has done its best to ensure everyone can feel welcome within its limits. Those with accessibility requirements not least of all.
While not every venue in the city necessarily can make itself accessible, whether due to size or budget constraints, or because of limitations with the venue itself, Bristol has many attractions that are happy to open their doors no matter your needs. If you’re planning a trip to see Bristol’s many museums, we’ve compiled a small guide to help you work out which ones will be most suitable for people with disabilities or special needs.
Dive into Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
As Bristol’s largest and most established museum, it’s in some ways inevitable that anyone visiting the city will wind up in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery at some point or another. Because it draws in tens of thousands of visitors each year, the Bristol Museum has invested a great deal in ensuring all its guests can enjoy the full extent of their collection.
Its accessibility measures are going to be among the most extensive of the museums in Bristol, as a result. Level entry to the building is provided through automatic doors just off to the side of the main entrance, and a lift provides access to all the public floors. Induction loops and audio descriptions are provided at the main reception, and trained staff can be found on all floors. Assistance dogs are also welcomed, and seating can be provided at request.
Set sail on the SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain, built by famed Anglo-French Industrialist Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was first launched at a time when accessibility concerns were not high on most people’s minds. Since finding new life as a museum ship, however, measures have been taken to ensure anyone can board and enjoy this vessel.
Wheelchair access is provided to all levels of the ship and the museum buildings, and to help avoid cobbles an alternative approach is provided by the Harbourside Kitchens. Because parts of the ship and the more historical structures may be too narrow for modern wheelchairs, a specially fitted one can be provided free of charge.
Guests with visual impairments can receive a tactile model of the SS Great Britain if requested in advance, and assistance dogs may join them on the ship. Likewise, the museum recommends a sighted assistant accompany any partially sighted guests, and they receive free entry.
Explore the universe at We, The Curious
One of Bristol’s more innovative venues, We The Curious can be summed up most succinctly as a scientific playground as much as a museum. If you ever had questions about time, the universe, and everything, then We The Curious will help you explore them within a fun and interactive setting.
The venue, being very modern and forward thinking, has done its best to ensure everyone with an enquiring mind has the chance to enjoy its facilities. Lifts provide access to all floors, carers receive free entry into the attraction, and assistance dogs are permitted. Hearing loops are provided for hard-of-hearing guests, while plans are currently underway to introduce BSL guides. Exhibits have also been specially designed for people with limited vision, utilising techniques such as enlarged font and sharp colour contrasting.
Take flight at the Aerospace Bristol
Covering over one hundred years of British aviation history, Aerospace Bristol is the place to go for those with a fascination with whacky flying machines. Featuring dozens of exhibits, including the last Concord to fly, Aerospace Bristol welcomes aeroplane geeks and casual visitors alike.
Fifteen disabled parking bays are provided in the car parks, and the entire facility is accessible to wheelchairs and assistance dogs. Be aware that Concorde, while boardable, has very narrow aisles and so may be difficult for those with chairs or scooters.
Benches are provided liberally throughout the museum, so there are plenty of opportunities to stop and take a rest.
Be welcome at The Georgian House
Formerly the residence of a prominent Bristolian merchant from the 18th century, The Georgian House is a beautifully preserved Enlightenment-era structure that now functions as a living history museum. Chronicling the history of Bristol’s days as a trading hub, including its role in the Atlantic slave trade, visitors will get a chance to see what life was like at the dawning days of a globalised Britain.
Despite its age and historical character, the Georgian House has been fitted to ensure that all its guests are free to explore at their leisure. There is wheelchair access to all floors, and assistance dogs are welcomed inside.
Be inspired at The Royal West of England Academy (RWA)
Containing thousands of pieces from artists both world famous and obscure, the RWA is contained within a stunning Grade II-listed building. Visitors are free to explore its many galleries, where they’ll get a chance to witness the artistic heritage of Bristol up close.
As a large and metropolitan museum, access is provided throughout. A manual wheelchair can be borrowed at the reception desk, and lift access is provided to all floors of the gallery. Guide dogs are welcome to attend, and large print guides are available. Further, staff are always on hand if any additional assistance is required. Disabled parking is provided.
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