Firstsite Contemporary Art Gallery

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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

Arts & Craft Shop

Discover a covetable range of design-led gifts at firstsite's shop, located at the front of the building.

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Guide Prices




  • Disabled access
  • Disabled toilets
  • Facilities for hearing impaired
  • Wheelchairs available

Booking & Payment Details

  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)
  • Credit cards accepted (with charge)


  • On-site catering
  • On-site light refreshments
  • Picnic site


  • Baby changing facilities
  • Children welcome


  • Education/study area
  • Facilities for educational visits
  • Facilities for groups

Meeting, Conference & Wedding Facilities

  • Facilities for conferencing
  • Facilities for corporate hospitality

Property Facilities

  • Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)
  • Gift shop
  • Public toilets
  • Smoking not allowed

Site Features

  • Regional Tourist Board Member
  • Welcome Host

Target Markets

  • Accepts groups
  • Coach parties accepted

Map & Directions


Road Directions

By Road:Follow signs to the Town Centre.Accessible by Public Transport: Colchester Town station is 1 mile away.


Type:Art Gallery

Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1JH

Tel: 01206 713700

Fax: 01206 577161


  • Other AwardsSelf-assessed Accessibility Information Self-assessed Accessibility Information 2020
  • Visit EnglandVistEngland VAQAS Gold VistEngland VAQAS Gold 2018
  • Visit BritainWe're Good to Go We're Good to Go 2020

Opening Times

* Monday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm