Arts + Entertainment

Happy Birthday, Beaney!

In September 2012, The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge re-opened its doors to the public following an ambitious refurbishment and extension project. The stunning redevelopment was made possible by a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant of over £7 million.

Since then, The Beaney has welcomed over two million visitors, brought world-class exhibitions to Canterbury, shared unique collections with a variety of audiences and had a huge impact on the lives of local residents through its community-based exhibitions and award-winning health and wellbeing programme.


A finalist in the Art Fund Museum of the Year Awards in 2013, The Beaney is now listed as one of Visit England’s top 5 most visited free attractions in the South East, providing a welcoming environment for visitors of all ages and backgrounds to experience and enjoy world-class art, heritage and culture.


To celebrate its fifth birthday, The Beaney will be holding a special day of free family events and activities on Saturday 16th September between 11am and 4pm.

The day will feature a packed programme including craft workshops, highlights tours, musical and dance performances and the return of the hugely popular Stormtroopers (courtesy of the UK Garrison) who last visited The Beaney back in December 2015 to celebrate the opening of May The Toys Be With You, an exhibition of Star Wars collectables and memorabilia which attracted record visitor numbers. There will also be the chance to purchase a Beaney print, created specially for The Beaney’s 5th Birthday by artist, Hugh Ribbans.


The event will also see the launch of the Beaney Butterfly Machine, a new piece of technology that allows visitors to explore objects through music and sound. This pioneering machine has been developed by Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) as part of a HLF funded project.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to enjoy the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016, an exhibition of contemporary photography currently on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. The Beaney is the only venue in the South of England to host the touring exhibition outside of London, providing a unique opportunity to view some truly stunning photography here in the heart of Canterbury.

To coincide with the day of celebrations, The Beaney will be unveiling some new displays for the public to enjoy in its People & Places and Explorers & Collectors galleries. Items will include Canterbury’s most famous cat, Bagpuss along with the Clangers, Rupert the Bear and the Canterbury Cross, recently named as one of the 100 Objects that Made Kent.


Director of Museums & Galleries, Joanna Jones said: “We are delighted to be celebrating five years of the new and revitalised Beaney. We have a great programme planned for the 16th September and this will be an opportunity to thank our visitors for their support over the last five years.”

Since reopening, The Beaney has welcomed over 500,000 children and young people, stimulating curiosity, imagination and creativity. Its dedicated schools programme has also enriched learning for pupils outside the classroom through an engaging series of curriculum-linked workshops. In 2013, The Beaney won the Sandford Award in recognition of its outstanding contribution to heritage education and learning.

The last five years have also seen The Beaney develop an award-winning Health & Wellbeing programme which has had a hugely positive impact on the lives of local people.

Having recently received National Portfolio Organisation funding from Arts Council England as part of the Medway Museums Partnership, The Beaney will now be building on its work as a ‘therapeutic museum’ through a number of innovative projects, further enhancing the lives of local people.


Exciting future plans include a new Family Gallery, an exhibition dedicated to Ladybird Books and Becket 2020, a city-wide programme to mark the 800th anniversary of Becket’s translation to a new shrine at Canterbury Cathedral.

To find out more about the Beaney 5th Birthday and the activities taking place on 16th September visit

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
18 High Street

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