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What’s to See

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The Munnings Art Museum is at Castle House, the former home of the artist Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) and his wife, Violet. Described by Munnings as ‘the house of my dreams’, he lived and worked in this elegant Tudor and Georgian building for over forty years until his death in 1959. The House, garden, artist’s studio and Garden Café are set in forty acres of beautiful countryside in the Dedham Vale on the borders of Suffolk and Essex. The museum owns the largest collection of art works by this prolific East Anglian painter and former President of the Royal Academy (1944-1949)

Garden Cafe

The Garden Café serves light lunches, teas, coffees and cakes.
Open 30th March – 31st October 2018, 12.30 – 5pm, Wednesday – Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays. Other times by appointment.
Entry to the museum grounds and Garden Café is free.

Alfred Munnings is considered to be a major figure in the great tradition of British horse painting and is celebrated for his depiction of English rural life and landscapes. The museum’s carefully curated displays ensure that there is always a fully representative selection of his art on display, ranging from his childhood drawings to last works. Visitors to the museum have the opportunity to experience Munnings’ passion for the rural traditions and landscapes of East Anglia and Cornwall which he captured on canvas and develop an understanding of the talent and skill he used to convey the explosive energy of the racing scenes for which he is now globally renowned.

In the main rooms of the museum around 150 pictures are hung chronologically so that visitors can better understand the life and work of the artist. The furniture, objects and personal items belonging to Sir Alfred and Lady Munnings remain in situ and the museum welcomes visitors to sit and enjoy the ambience of their home.

In 2018, visits begin in Main Hall with a display celebrating Sir Alfred Munnings as Past President of the Royal Academy. The visit then continues into the Library, which showcases Munnings’ childhood drawings, apprentice poster designs, art school studies and early works up until the age of around 20.

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The Dining Room and Drawing Room highlight his work painting outdoors, ‘en plein air’ in the first decade of the 20th century. There is an emphasis on the depiction of the English idyll and Gipsy subjects.

A series of pencil portraits are newly installed in the Morning Room for 2018. They are fine examples of Munnings ability to capture the likeness of the people around him and were drawn over a period of fifty years.

Back to the Main Hall, there are a small number of pictures relating to Munnings time in Cornwall and his time spent with the Newlyn artists including Laura Knight with whom he was lifelong friends. In 2018 on display, for the first ever time, is a painting by Florence Munnings (nee Carter-Wood) the artist’s first wife whom he met and married in Cornwall in 1912.

The staircase, landings and two upstairs galleries focus on Munnings most high profile period: his emergence as a sought after equestrian portraitist during the 1920s and 1930s and as President of the Royal Academy with his outspoken opinions on Modern Art. These displays include two of his most iconic works My Wife, My Horse and Myself (1928-1935) and Does the Subject Matter? (1953-1956).

Walkers and cyclists

The Munnings Art Museum is situated along the Essex Way which passes through it’s forty acre estate. Walkers and cyclists are welcome in the museum or just to take time out in the grounds. Visit the Garden Café for something to eat and drink to help you on your way.

The special exhibition Munnings and the River explores Munnings’ artistic and literary responses to a subject with which he had a great affinity and which remained a constant motif throughout his life’s work.

The exhibition includes over fifty oil and watercolour paintings, including September Afternoon, views of the Stour at Dedham and a series of studies made on Exmoor (see right) during Munnings exile there during the Second World War. Sketches, photographs and personal ephemera belonging to the artist complete the displays.

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In the garden visitors will find Munnings’ original studio which he transported from Swainsthorpe in Norfolk to Dedham in 1920. In the studio his painting materials and props are on display as well as sculpture and scenes of hunting in Norfolk and Cornwall.

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The Munnings Art Museum is part of the Artist’s Studio Museum Network

The network is spearheaded by the Watts Gallery, please visit the website to find out more.

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The museum’s displays are accompanied by explanatory text panels throughout, detailing important contextual events, people and influences. Many of the panels include quotes by Munnings himself, taken from his three volume autobiography, so that you can develop a sense of the man as well as the artist.

Knowledgeable room stewards are on hand to answer your questions and provide further information.

Children’s activity sheets are available.

The museum shop has a range of books, unique gifts and souvenirs.