Coventry’s year as City of Culture has resulted in the spotlight being turned on one of its finest visitor attractions - the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. The city-centre venue is currently exhibiting this year’s Turner Prize artworks. Here’s a run-down of what you can expect to find when you pay a visit to the Herbert...

Situated in the heart of Coventry city centre - right next to the historic cathedral - the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is a proud and  family-friendly venue, where people of all ages can broaden their cultural horizons and learn about the history of the city. And with Coventry currently the UK City of Culture, there’s no better time to visit.

Boasting a range of galleries, events and exhibitions, the venue offers plenty to keep everyone entertained. As a National Portfolio Organisation, the Herbert is dedicated to delivering activities that support two of Arts Council England’s primary goals: to reach the widest possible audience, and deliver work that represents the height of ambition, talent and skill.  

Visitors to the Herbert can explore the legend of Lady Godiva in the Discover Godiva gallery, learn about the Coventry Blitz in the Peace And Reconciliation gallery, and marvel at paintings from centuries ago in the Old Masters gallery. 

The History Gallery, meanwhile, spans the medieval, Victorian and post-war periods, exploring how Coventry’s past has shaped the present-day city. The gallery also offers visitors the chance to get hands-on by doing some weaving, trying on chain mail or sitting inside an Anderson shelter. 

Alongside its permanent galleries, the Herbert hosts a wealth of regular events aimed at encouraging creativity - from Mini Makers Messy Play, for children under four, to the Create And Craft Café, for those aged 60-plus. There are also monthly Mothers Who Make workshops and family-friendly art talks to enjoy.

The Herbert has a selection of festive-season activities coming up in the next few weeks. Visitors can get creative with winter origami and rag wreath workshops, while younger children can enjoy Christmas-themed stories with sensory play, or sing along with Santa when he pays a visit to the gallery.

Turner Prize 2021

The Herbert is currently hosting the Turner Prize, a national, annually held visual arts award recognising British artists for outstanding exhibitions and presentations. 

For the first time, the Turner Prize’s shortlist consists entirely of artist collectives, with all five nominees working with communities across the UK to inspire change through art. 

Belfast’s Array Collective, Cardiff-based Gentle/Radical, and Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) all address the subject of conflict between communities in their installations. 

Array merge performance, protest, video and ancient mythology in their work, The Druithaib’s Ball. The stage for this piece is a makeshift pub, where the group explore the religious divides that have inhabited Northern Ireland for the last hundred years. 

Gentle/Radical also use video as their primary medium. In a collaboration between community activists, youth workers, writers and others, they express their desire for people to live together in more equitable ways. 

B.O.S.S. address a similar theme with their immersive exhibition, exploring how sound culture brings together marginalised groups against repression and discrimination.

Elsewhere, Cooking Sections examine the effect and impact of salmon farming in their installation, Salmon: Traces Of Escapees. 

The show reveals the gap between the perception of farmed salmon as an affordable luxury and the reality of its environmental cost. The collective is proposing ‘climavore’ as a form of eating that adapts to the climate. Their dishes can be tasted at the Herbert’s Alfred’s Café.

Last but not least, Project Art Works fill their space with the work of the artists they support. The collective engage with people who have complex support needs and strive for greater visibility of neurodiversity in culture. Their installation takes the form of a digital archive of over 4,000 works, produced by neurodivergent artists and makers across a period of two decades.

The winner of the Turner Prize 2021 will be announced on 1 December. 
The artworks will remain, free to view, at the Herbert until 12 January.

Coventry Biennial 2021: HYPER-POSSIBLE

Also taking place this winter is the third Coventry Biennial, an exhibition of newly commissioned projects exploring socially, politically and critically engaged artistic practices. 

Titled HYPER-POSSIBLE, the event is being held in seven exhibition spaces across the city, with the major exhibition at the Herbert remaining open until 6 February.

Local, national and international artists have developed works for the Biennial that explore some of society’s most topical issues. These include: the social and political impact of people’s identities; our relationships with the places we live; and the effect that human activity has on the planet.

With the aim of sparking cultural debate and promoting the city, the Biennial’s programme includes a whole host of activities with which to get involved, providing visitors to the event with the opportunity to learn new skills and discover hidden parts of the city.

For further information, opening times and events, visit: theherbert.org