The Metropole Collection

Folkestone’s 20th Century Contemporary Art Collection

In 2023 Folkestone Museum were the recipients of a very generous gift from Creative Folkestone…

For a little over forty years Folkestone had an arts centre on The Leas, the New Metropole Arts Centre, housed in what until 1959 had been the Metropole Hotel. Whilst the majority of the building was converted into flats the main public rooms were not. Into these the building’s owner, and philanthropist, Gerald Glover created a venue that would see art, in its widest sense, embedded in the town.

As the work and reputation of the New Metropole Arts Centre grew it became nationally renowned. Attracting major exhibitions including retrospectives including Henry Moore and Jacob Epstein during its first ten years, it would, during the 1970s come under the wing of the Kent Education Committee; in effect Kent County Council (KCC), as well as attracting funding & support from the Arts Council.

Initially the Centre only borrowed artworks for display but with a new education remit as an adult education venue it started to assemble its own collection. The collecting occurred in a variety of ways, including gifts from artist, purchases and works produced on site. Much was driven by the centre itself but acquisitions also came about while working alongside the KCC visual arts loans service, which as lent to schools and similar organisation across the county. With the closure of the centre in the 2000s the collection was inherited by Creative Folkestone, who in turn worked with the Folkestone Arts Trust, as day-to-day custodians to display the collection in other venues in the town until the global pandemic arose.

The collection includes work by Royal College of Art graduates Fred Cuming and John Titchell, who both lived and worked locally. Others such as David Greenhall and Michael Chaplin also feature, Chaplin being well known as one of the experts on Channel 4’s Watercolour Challenge. Beyond artists working in Kent the collection also features work by well known artists such as John Piper, Edward Ardizzone, Peter Blake and Carel Weight. The last significant acquisition occurred in the 1990s with a gift from Carel Weight of work from his own collection, both his paintings and works by Andrew Freeth, Lucien & Orvida Pissaro among others.

With thanks to Chair Sir Roger De Hann CBE DL and fellow Trustees of Creative Folkestone

With over 200 works in The Metropole Collection the exhibition will be regularly rehung as it is not possible to display it in its entirety. Please note that for preservation of the works on display light levels have been kept low, but can be risen temporarily for those with visual impairments.

The exhibition closes on Saturday 15th June, open hours are 10.00am to 4.00pm; last entry to the exhibition at 3.30pm.

For further details email, call 01303 257946 and select option 0 (office hours only) or call into Folkestone Museum & Town Hall.


painting of an oak tree
Oak Tree, John Titchell

The metropole collection


May 25 @ 10:00
10:00 — 16:00 (6h)