Russell-Cotes, A House Turned Museum and Gallery

Esther Tendai Burt

My name is Esther. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. I came to the UK, London to be specific in the year 2000. In 2005, I graduated as a psychiatric nurse at South Bank University. I moved down to Southampton in 2006. I did Journalism in 2011 and founded my own publication called DIY Girl magazine. Fast forward, I am now a full-time travel blogger.

Russell-Cotes, A House Turned Museum and Gallery

Russell-Cotes Museum

Russell-Cotes, a house turned Museum and Gallery is a beautiful Victorian house. In 1901, Merton Russell-Cotes gave his wife Annie, a birthday present in the form of a dream house on a cliff-top. The house overlooked the sea in the town of Bournemouth. Merton and Annie wanted to live in comfortable style, and it took them four years to build the house. Much more so, they also wanted to house their vastly growing exotic collections from worldwide travels.


I adore museums and I have visited many before. Spending five years in London allowed me to tour many museums but Russell-Cotes is just one of a kind. I could not believe the enormous collections steeped in history. Walking through the entrance, I was first greeted by a mesmerising building that immediately highlighted how adorable the museum was, from both inside and out. The house was initially built for the Russell-Cotes’ personal enjoyment but was later presented as a gift to the people of Bournemouth. And today, Russell-Cotes’ doors are open to tourists from all over the world.


4 Purpose-Built Galleries

The beachfront museum has four distinctive galleries that equally important compliment each other. Exquisite paintings, ceramic, bronze, and marble sculptures fill the galleries. Wealthy items on display astounded me. Victorian art include gorgeous and timeless portraits of animals, children, landscapes and history paintings.

I loved Merton’s striking quotes that were doted on most of the arches and entrances of galleries. This demonstrated that Merton wasn’t only rich in his appealing collections, but was also evidently rich with his words too.

Russell-Cotes Museum

Check for more quotes in my blog gallery


Russell-Cotes is an extremely cosmopolitan museum with rich and varied mixes of cultural collections noted from its Japanese theme gardens to French display-cabinets to African sculptures and so on, expressing diversity in the Russell-Cotes’ collections.

Russell-Cotes Museum

Exotic Collections


And also this…

Russell-Cotes Museum


Adorable Architecture

Aesthetically pleasing decorations were noted everywhere in the museum. Even things like the sophisticated balustrade on different floors showcased elegance furnishing of the museum.

Russell-Cotes Museum


Corinthian-style displays were a highlight, relating to different countries visited by Merton and Annie. Just have to share one below:

Russell-Cotes Museum

Even if the house was completed in 1901, it expressed the Romanesque-kind of presentation, with its round arches, curved ceilings, thick walls and large pillars. Each and every room was well appointed with attractive and expensive decorations and furniture.


The Gardens

The ornamental pond I believe was inspired by Merton and Annie’s visit to Japan in 1885. Parts of the grounds have a Japanese-themed Garden with a pond, bridge and fountains. This reminded me of my previous post about the Compton Acres where the Japanese-themed garden is also featured. What caught my eye during my tour were the gates below. These gates had an outstanding  character.

Russell-Cotes Museum

Gate outsite part of Russell-Cotes Museum Garden


Victorian Era

If I were to choose which era I would prefer to have lived in, I would definitely pick the Victorian era. The Russell-Cotes Museum takes you back in time. I had to go up and down all floors several times. A single tour around the museum was not enough for me and everytime I went around, I noticed something different and even more captivating.


The dateless displays shockingly continue to show beauty in them. This was nostalgically nice as this reminded me of home (Zimbabwe). Growing up, my mother used to own a couple of display cabinets to store her souvenirs.

Russell-Cotes Museum

Delicate Display Cabinet in Annie Russell-Cotes’ Boudoir


Diversity and Family-Friendly

Russell-Cotes Museum offers many things. The  museum host visits from schools, further education institutions, and tours from language schools. Visitors also include adults and children. Extensive displays capture the eye of every art lover be it young or old.


To complement the elegant Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is the café. The café serves mouth-watering treats of all kinds. Included on the Menu is a wide selection of drinks too. Love tea, the way I do, then  don’t miss the ‘Afternoon Tea’ served from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm, To avoid disappoints, this should be pre-booked by calling 012 0245 1827 or emailing


In addition, if ever there is need for takeaway treat for memories’ sake, there’s a museum Gift Shop, found on ground floor. The Gift Shop is filled with loads of gorgeous delights, not to mention the Russell-Cotes Guide Book.


Russell-Cotes Museum

Russell-Cotes Guide Book

The Guide is readily available from the reception area. The book gives more insight about the museum and its origins. The guide also gives a clearer picture when one gets to actually tour the entire museum.


Since it is a beachfront museum, I could see the sea and Bournemouth from some of the rooms at Russell-Cotes Museum.  This was refreshing.

Russell-Cotes Museum


Future Events

What I loved about the Russell-Cotes Museum was the fact that as much as it famously known as a museum, it is also important to realise that the public also have access to hire designated areas to host parties or any accepted events of their choice.


Different EVENTS are held all year round, including ‘Talks and Tours’. I am extremely excited by the major exhibition that celebrates the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts.  The exhibition started on 4 May – 14 October.

Russell-Cotes Museum

Having a rest in the conservatory


Opening Times

It appears like a one-off visit to Russell-Cotes Museum is never enough, that is if you like museums. It would be wise enough to take advantage of their Annual Pass. The pass can allow individuals unlimited visits to the museum. Above all, Annual Passes furthermore enables visitors opportunities to experience different themes offered. Check their Opening Times  to see what most suites you.



Russell-Cotes Museum is like a fairy-tale house. It is also easy to getting there. I am very fortunate to live just a stone-throw away and it only took me a walk to get there. However, people can also get there by car. There are several parking places scattered around. Some people use buses, or fly as forms of public transport. This offers a choice of ways on How To Get There


Russell-Cotes is located on the eastern cliffs of Bournemouth surely making it a must-see museum. Charming images shared are only a drop in an ocean. I strongly recommend you to visit Russell-Cotes Museum probably for the unforgettable experience of your lifetime. If you have visited the museum before and captured some memories, please do share your experience on my social media platform. For me, I can conclude with three ‘F’ words that best describe Russell-Cotes Museum and these are 1) Fascinating, 2) Fun, and 3) Fantabulous.

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