University city Southampton has a thriving arts scene, and contains several art galleries specialising in contemporary art as well as showcasing local up and coming artists. If live entertainment is more your thing then there are two theatres to tempt you with independent productions by local talent at The Nuffield Theatre to international stars and West End musicals at The Mayflower Theatre.
The iconic 800 year old Bargate Monument has been refurbished to house a contemporary art gallery. Exhibitions are organised by "A Space" who aim to build a network of venues and projects to showcase visual arts from up and coming artists. The Bargate Gallery forms part of the Arts Vaults project where a whole host of visual arts are presented across the city in hidden medieval vaults and structures underneath Southampton. You can view them on self guided walks by picking up a map from the Bargate Monument. Guided walks are also available.
Impressive 1930s Civic Building, The City Art Gallery along with the Guildhall and the city library houses a collection covering six centuries of European art history. The light and airy galleries flow into one another with themed collections of art including paintings and sculpture from Monet to Gormley, and Renaissance art to cutting edge modern art. Themed exhibitions regularly change and are beautifully presented in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Alongside the public exhibitions, the Gallery runs a whole host of events including educational events opening up art to all ages and special family friendly events where the youngsters can have a go at creating their own masterpiece.
The Millais Gallery sits within the Southampton Solent University buildings on East Park Terrace. It's a public art gallery specialising in culturally diverse contemporary visual art. The three exhibition spaces showcase a mixture of work by established and breaking artists. The Main Gallery exhibits their work and hosts the shows of University degree students' work. The Project room highlights emerging artists' works that are based in Southampton and the South East. Lastly there's the Film Foyer where films by contemporary film makers are exhibited.
Another public art gallery amongst university buildings is the John Hansard Gallery on the University of Southampton's Highfield Campus. It lies next to Southampton Common, north of the city centre. The gallery promotes contemporary art with a range of changing exhibitions throughout the year. There is a bookshop onsite with a range of books covering art history, art theory, architecture and design, film and cultural studies.