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image for Art Gallery item typeFirstsite

  • VistEngland VAQAS
  • Self-assessed Accessibility Information

Art Gallery, free entry




Dear friends of Firstsite,

Following careful consideration of recent developments of the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to temporarily close Firstsite to members of the public from 5:00pm this evening (18th March) until further notice. We will open again as soon as we possibly can and will be in touch when we have a firm idea of this date.

We have made this difficult decision to help protect the welfare of our visitors and staff, who always come first.

We believe art can help us to see the world differently. It inspires, empowers and opens our minds. Now more than ever, art can help us feel connected, lift our spirits and support our well-being. Whilst Firstsite is shut, we are working on ways for you to enjoy our programme online. We’ll share these ideas and activities with you soon.

All events including cinema screenings up until and including Monday 30th March are cancelled. If you have pre-booked for any events during this time, we will be in touch over the coming days. As a charity, we rely on our ticket sales and donations to continue to show award-winning artists and exhibitions, bring creativity to East Anglia and support our community. We hope that, if you feel able, you may consider donating the cost of your ticket or any other amount to Firstsite to help us to continue this work and use it where it is needed most.

We will be reviewing the scheduling of other events regularly and if further events are cancelled or postponed we will be in touch with any ticket holders affected directly.

While the building is closed, our team will still be contactable Monday - Friday from 9am - 5pm on 01206 713700 or at

Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding at this time. We hope you will bear with us during this period of disruption.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Firstsite when we re-open.

Take care of yourself and stay safe.

Best wishes,

Sally Shaw
Firstsite Director

Firstsite is the East of England's contemporary visual arts organisation. From its spectacular golden building designed by world-renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, Firstsite presents a varied and challenging programme of exhibitions, commissions, residencies and screenings, in a broad range of media and art forms, by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.

At Firstsite, visitors will experience the most exciting developments in contemporary art, and explore the rich artistic legacy cultivated by the East of England's unique landscape and character.

Firstsite also offers a wide-ranging programme of creative events and activities for the whole family - from drop-in sessions for parents and toddlers, to intensive art and craft courses for adults, and special screenings, live theatre, opera and ballet screened from across the world, talks and debates in its state-of-the-art auditorium. A flourishing programme of work with diverse groups including schoolchildren, older people, young parents and looked after children aims to bring people together through free shared creative activities - inside the building and at grassroots level in the local community.

Firstsite is proud to be a partner of Plus Tate, an 18-strong affiliation of regional galleries, including The Baltic in Gateshead, Turner Contemporary in Margate and The Hepworth Wakefield, which join together to exchange ideas, knowledge, skills and resources, as well as programmes and collections.

Where art meets commerce

An iconic, golden-clad crescent in the heart of historic Colchester, the new Firstsite building has fast become an international centre for the contemporary visual arts, and also an exciting new cultural, social and commercial space for Essex and the region.
You can hire Firstsite's 180-seat tiered auditorium, hi-spec meeting rooms and function space for a host of business purposes, including conferences, presentations, and product launches. Firstsite is also available for club and society meetings, and makes a spectacular backdrop to private parties and celebrations.

Something for everyone

Firstsite is a place to meet, discover, learn - and just relax.
At the firstsite shop, you'll discover a covetable range of design-led gifts and souvenirs.

Firstsite is completely free to enter, but through donations, memberships and legacies, you can contribute to its important work providing employment and learning opportunities for local people, and support for local and regional artist practitioners. Visit and click on 'Support us' to find out more.

Plan your visit

Located in the heart of historic Colchester's, just yards from the famous Castle and all the town's major high street shops and independent boutiques, Firstsite is easily reached by road or rail, and just a short walk from several town-centre car parks. Fully accessible throughout, Firstsite welcomes assistance dogs and provides a hearing loop in the auditorium and learning spaces, plus large-print exhibition guides and labels on request. To plan your trip and check seasonal opening hours, please go to the 'Visit' channel at

Baby changing facilitiesCoach parties acceptedCredit cards accepted (no fee)Credit cards accepted (with charge)Disabled toiletsEducation/study areaFacilities for groupsFacilities for educational visitsGift shopOn-site cateringOn-site light refreshmentsPicnic sitePublic toiletsRegional Tourist Board MemberWelcome HostWheelchairs availableAccepts groupsFacilities for conferencingFacilities for corporate hospitality

Children welcomeDisabled accessDogs not accepted (except guidedogs)Smoking not allowedFacilities for hearing impaired

Opening details

Monday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm


Free entry



Lewis Gardens,
High Street,


See location of Firstsite on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: TL 999252  Lat: 51.88968 Long: 0.90477

By Road:
Follow signs to the Town Centre.

Accessible by Public Transport: 1 mile from Colchester Town station


  • Baby changing facilitiesBaby changing facilities
  • Coach parties acceptedCoach parties accepted
  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)Credit cards accepted (no fee)
  • Credit cards accepted (with charge)Credit cards accepted (with charge)
  • Disabled toiletsDisabled toilets
  • Education/study areaEducation/study area
  • Facilities for groupsFacilities for groups
  • Facilities for educational visitsFacilities for educational visits
  • Gift shopGift shop
  • On-site cateringOn-site catering
  • On-site light refreshmentsOn-site light refreshments
  • Picnic sitePicnic site
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets
  • Regional Tourist Board MemberRegional Tourist Board Member
  • Welcome HostWelcome Host
  • Wheelchairs availableWheelchairs available
  • Accepts groupsAccepts groups
  • Facilities for conferencingFacilities for conferencing
  • Facilities for corporate hospitalityFacilities for corporate hospitality
  • Children welcomeChildren welcome
  • Disabled accessDisabled access
  • Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)
  • Smoking not allowedSmoking not allowed
  • Facilities for hearing impairedFacilities for hearing impaired

Self-Assessed Accessibility Details


  • YesDesignated parking for guests with disabilities
    • YesWithin 50 metres approx. of entrance
  • The surface of the car park and pathway leading to entrance:
    • Yesis solid
  • YesDrop-off point for guests outside entrance
  • The route from the parking area to the entrance:
    • YesIs flat (i.e. without steps)

Public Areas

  • Level access (no steps/thresholds) or access by ramp or lift:
    • YesFrom the entrance to reception / ticket area
    • YesTo a specially adapted public toilet suitable for wheelchair users
    • YesTo the gift shop
  • YesGood contrast between the floor and walls
  • YesContrast markings on clear surfaces such as glass doors
  • YesBaby changing facilities
  • YesVisitor information available in large print (14pt and over)
  • YesHearing loop installed in public areas


  • YesSeating available for visitors with limited mobility
  • YesClear signage
  • YesEffective lighting for visually impaired visitors
  • YesGood colour/tonal contrast for visually impaired visitors
  • YesRoutes/pathways suitable for wheelchair users or visitors with limited mobility
  • YesDisplays at suitable height for wheelchair users / children
  • YesAudible alarm system


  • YesEntrance is well lit
  • YesAutomatic door at the main entrance


  • YesLevel access (no steps/thresholds) or access by ramp or lift to cafeteria
  • YesGood contrast between the floor and walls
  • Restaurant / cafe provide meals for visitors with special dietary requirements:
    • YesSugar free (diabetic)
    • YesGluten free (coeliacs)
    • YesLactose free (dairy free)
    • YesNut free
    • YesAdditive free
    • YesVegetarian
    • YesVegan
  • YesSeating suitable for wheelchair users, ie moveable and good height for person sitting in a wheelchair
  • YesHigh chairs for children
  • YesChildren's menu