Inspiring Minds Since 1824
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
For the last two centuries, we have been putting on lectures, exhibitions and other public events for the people of Bath and in this, our bicentenary year, we want to do even more and do it even better. So we have a bumper programme of talks, exhibitions, festivals and family events planned running through the year to January 2025.
Learn how Bath and the world have changed since 1824 and imagine what the future may hold for us all. Experience the wonders of our collections and celebrate our role in Bath’s cultural and intellectual life. Join us for this very special year!
We don’t just want this to be a year of celebration. We also want it to be the start of something even more exciting — our first step towards becoming Bath’s premier ‘cultural hub’.
We are a charity, and we need your support. Please come along to our events, become a member, donate to our 1824 fund, or sponsor our activities. Your support will not only help us to put on exhibitions for free and to keep our ticket prices low, but will also help us put on more events.
Throughout the year, we have dozens of special events planned. Highlights include:
Brilliantly Engineered (24 to 27 February)
Showcasing the amazing technology and engineering strength at work in the region, with interactive workshops for families and students.
Extraordinary Women (1 to 15 March)
A series of evening talks and a full-day symposium focused on International Women’s Day in March, featuring a diverse range of female pioneers from Mary Wollstonecraft to Dolly Parton.
‘The World Revealed’ Exhibition (23 March to 12 October)
Displaying picks from the Institution’s collection of over 150,000 objects, including fossils, natural history specimens, and photographs of 1850s Bath by the Rev Francis Lockey.
A Family Fun Weekend (29 and 30 June)
Family entertainment and stimulation in conjunction with Forest of Imagination.
Bath Taps Into Science (18 and 19 October)
In the autumn, we present another exciting weekend festival for youngsters.
Excitingly, our Christmas Lecture this year will feature the BBC’s Justin Webb as the guest speaker.
Many more events will be listed over the year on our What’s On page.
The Institution came into being in early 1824 and held its inaugural lecture in January 1825 – which is why the Bicentenary events run from January 2024 to January 2025.
The Institution’s original home was a specially designed building between the Abbey and the River Avon. It boasted a portico, a laboratory, two libraries, a lecture room and an exhibition room for a museum; in 1834, it laid out botanical gardens beside the river, in what is now Parade Gardens.
That building no longer exists, knocked down in 1932 for road improvements. The Institution then moved to its present location in Queen Square.
Learn more about the history of the BRLSI
The 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, a major Whig politician and former chancellor of the exchequer, became the Institution’s first President.
Two hundred years on, his great-great-great-great grandson, the Earl of Kerry, is our Honorary President for the Bicentenary Year.
The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution is a charity dedicated to ‘the promotion and advancement, for the public benefit, of science, literature and art in the City of Bath and its surrounding areas’.
We are a volunteer-led organisation with a small staff team. We put on over 100 talks a year, look after 150,000 scientific and historical objects, and manage a five-storey historic building in the heart of Georgian Bath.
We want 2024 to be the start of something bigger — a first step towards becoming Bath’s premier ‘cultural hub’.
Members will have the opportunity to join us for our Bicentenary Summer Party to be held in Parade Gardens in June.
To kick off the Bicentenary celebrations an evening reception was held on January 19th, followed by a members’ cake-cutting ceremony on January 20th. The Earl of Kerry expressed delight in being the Honorary President for the Bicentenary, renewing the 200-year-old connection. Among those attending the evening reception were the Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Mr Mohammed Saddiq; the Mayor of Bath, Councillor Dine Romero; the Countess of Kerry; and MP Wera Hobhouse, who expressed optimism for the Institution’s continued role as a welcoming and inclusive space for discussion and friendship in the next two centuries.