Throughout the 1940s Bangor Borough Council was eager to establish a local museum or art gallery but finding a suitable location proved difficult. In 1954, after years spent converting and restoring Bangor Castle, two rooms were allocated for a part-time museum. Finally, 30 years later, a permanent museum opened in the former stable block of the Castle which also previously housed the laundry and food stores.
The collection originated with objects bequeathed by Lady Clanmorris which are still on display in the Museum today. However, furnishing the empty building proved expensive in post-war times. So, the Council made a public appeal in the 1950s requesting works of art and furniture to dress the Castle. People gave generously and the collection has been further enhanced over the years by gifts and bequests from local artists, collectors, and individuals. The Haverty Trust also donated important pieces of Irish art including works by Charles Lamb RHA RUA, Maurice MacGonigal PPHRA and Paul Walls RUA.
Like many local government facilities, the collection has several portraits featuring Councillors and Aldermen some of which are displayed in the Council Chamber. However, there is a great variety among our art including travel posters, landscapes, sketches, and caricatures of local eccentrics.
For many the highlight of the collection is the paintings by James Humbert-Craig (1878 -1944). Craig, who grew up in Bangor, was renowned for his Irish landscapes. In 1948 his widow presented ‘Glendun, Cushendun’ to the Council to celebrate his connection with Bangor. In 1957 a further 12 were bequeathed to the Council in accordance with Annie’s will.
Some paintings in the collection have an important historical or social value. The work of RJ Woods (1871-1955) is one such example. We have 16 paintings by Woods, some gifted, others purchased, over the years 1935 - 1954. Woods hoped these would form the beginnings of an art gallery in Bangor. This never happened but his works have since adorned the corridors of the Castle.
This exhibition highlights some of our favourite paintings which capture local scenes. If you want to take a closer look at our collection, visit the Art UK website (www.artuk.org) which includes a selection our paintings and sculptures.
*The museum is currently temporarily closed*
Getting to Our Coast - As Seen Through Our Paintings - Exhibition
North Down Museum
Castle Park Avenue