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Brecon & Y Gaer Museum, Art Gallery & Library: A Visitor's Guide

The historic market town of Brecon is ten miles from Gliffaes and is worthy of visit. In 2019 the doors to a splendid museum of country life and gallery space was opened. The building cleverly encompassed parts of the old classically styled town museum. Architecturally, I think this is a vibrant and exciting space now. 

Combine your trip to y Gaer with a walk around Brecon and stroll along the Promenade alongside the Usk. 

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The ultimate guide to y Gaer (The Fort) Brecon Museum

Frequently asked questions

Where is y Gaer Museum?
y Gaer, Glamorgan Street, Brecon, Powys LD3 7DW, UK

When is y Gaer Museum open?
Tuesday: 10:00 – 16:00
Thursday-Sunday: 10:00 – 16:00

The Museum is not open on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Please note, opening times are correct at the time of writing. For up-to-date opening times, please visit y Gaer Museum’s website.

How long should I spend at y Gaer Museum?
Approximately 1 to 2 hours, depending on the current exhibitions.

How much does entry cost to y Gaer Museum?
Entrance to the Museum is free of charge.

Prices correct at the time of writing. For up-to-date prices, please visit y Gaer Museum’s website.

Can I park at y Gaer Museum?
There is parking at y Gaer Museum, down Glamorgan Street, available at a charge.

Is y Gaer Museum wheelchair-accessible?
Y Gaer Museum is designed to be a cultural hub that is ‘accessible for all’ – it is wheelchair accessible, with ‘Changing Places’ toilets available to assist with accessibility needs, such as a height-adjustable changing bench and hoist.

What’s the best time to visit y Gaer Museum?
Y Gaer Museum is open all year-round, with different exhibitions available throughout the year. Find out more about their current exhibitions on the y Gaer Facebook page.

We recommend heading to y Gaer in the morning, then making a visit to the Found Gallery opposite, and then stopping for lunch at The Hours Cafe and Bookshop, just up the road.

Is y Gaer Museum dog-friendly?
Dogs are not allowed at y Gaer Museum, with the exception of guide dogs or service dogs.

Is there WiFi at y Gaer Museum?
There is free WiFi at y Gaer Museum as well as free computers you can use in the library.

Come wake a world at y Gaer Museum, Art Gallery & Library

Y Gaer Museum is a relatively new attraction in the Brecon Beacons, having opened in December 2019.

The art museum’s name originates from y Gaer Roman fort in the Brecon Beacons, which is also the subject of the Owen Sheers poem, ‘Y Gaer (The Hill Fort)’.

Y Gaer Museum is funded by Powys County Council and a range of partners and donors, including the Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru), Brecknock Society and Museum Friends, Brecknock Art Trust, the Women’s Institute, and the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales (Ffederasiwn Amgueddfeydd ac Oreilau Celf Cymru).

The Brecon museum stands next to Captains Walk Gardens, a landscaping project by Harry and David Rich alongside the River Usk, incorporating woodland, meadows, and hillsides into one beautiful town centre garden.

The Welsh museum, gallery and library offer a peaceful retreat, a place to unwind and relax, with quiet contemplation areas and sections ideal for studying.

Y Gaer is a cultural centre of the Brecon Beacons, ideal for people of all ages, particularly those interested in Welsh culture and history.

It’s decorated throughout with an eclectic yet complimentary mix of modern, bold architectural choices and classic art, and fixtures throughout.

Y Gaer is built on the site of the Grade II Listed old shire hall and assize court, The Watton, which was built in 1842. 

y Gaer Museum Welsh History

A stone mantle piece from the Havard family home dated 1619.

History, art, and literature at y Gaer Museum

Y Gaer Museum
The museum in Wales was originally known as Brecknock Museum, opened in 1928, situated in the old shire hall part of the building.

This Brecon Museum details a myriad of historical artefacts, spanning from the Stone Age to the 20th century, with a focus on Welsh history.

The museum space is split into five galleries: the Brycheiniog Gallery, the Victorian School Room, the Craft Gallery, Assize Court, and the Brecon Gallery.

The Brycheiniog Gallery, situated on the top floor of y Gaer museum, focuses on the history of the medieval kingdom of Brycheiniog (now Brecknockshire), with a treasure trove of antiques and artefacts from the Welsh county’s past.

The Victorian School Room is a reconstructed classroom, primarily used for local Brecon school trips, decorated with Victorian children’s toys and school equipment. The desks are not far removed from what I sat on for years at school. 

A Welsh museum would be incomplete without lovespoons! The Craft Gallery has an impressive collection of Welsh lovespoons, along with some other examples of early Welsh craftsmanship.

The Assize Court played host to several criminal court cases, including murder trials, and the space has been reconstructed, so you can see what it would have looked like in the 1800s.

Finally, the Brecon Gallery looks at the more modern culture of Brecknockshire, with an array of clothing, furniture, and hobby pieces from Brecknock.

Must-see unique exhibits of y Gaer museum include the Roman Maiden Tombstone, a halberd dating back to the Copper Age, and a logboat from over a thousand years ago found at the bottom of Llan-gors Lake.

Y Gaer Art Gallery
The art collection at y Gaer Art Gallery is unlike any other, focusing on pieces, paintings and sculptures by Welsh artists or of Welsh places of interest.

It’s a range of contemporary and historical art, housed in two galleries: The Art Gallery and the Sir John Lloyd Gallery.

The Art Gallery is a permanent fixture of the museum in the Brecon Beacons, first started in the 1920s.

This space features art based in or on Brecknockshire, including works by Iwan Bala, Robert MacDonald, and Sarah Snazell.

The collection in the Art Gallery is always growing, so there’s usually something new to see each time we visit!

The Sir John Lloyd Gallery is the museum’s temporary exhibition, named after one of the founders of the original Brecknock Museum, with past exhibitions exploring a range of topics such as art, archaeology, history, and geology.

Brecon Library
The y Gaer library is known as Breckon Library, one of many Powys libraries holding approximately 200,000 books, audiobooks and DVDs.

It’s a haven for students and book-lovers alike, and plays host to regular clubs for locals and visitors to develop their skills, such as coding, knitting, and even Lego building!

Food and drink at y Gaer Museum

The onsite café, Caffi y Gaer, is ideal for museum visitors and guests of the library, serving an array of homemade cakes and snacks as well as hot and cold drinks.

y Gaer Museum Assent Court

The beautifully restored Victorian Court room.

If you’re looking for a quick treat while you’re at the museum, the café is a perfect place to stop, but if you’re after something more substantial, we’d recommend stopping by The Hours Cafe & Bookshop, just a 5 minute walk up the road.

How to find y Gaer Museum

It’s a beautiful drive, passing through the Brecon Beacons – we recommend taking a short detour around Llangorse Lake for some picturesque scenes.

Alternatively, drive to the A40 and turn left, Brecon will be the first town you arrive at after about 8 miles.

At Brynich Roundabout, take the second exit onto the B4601, and at the following roundabout, go straight onto Watton, then y Gaer Museum, Art Gallery & Library will be on your left down Glamorgan Street, where you can also park your car, for a fee.

Brecon Beacons

The Usk with Pen-Y-Fan and the Brecon Beacons in the background.

James’ tips for visiting Brecon and y Gaer Museum

One of my favourite displays is the revamped Cabinet of Curiosities. A Victorian idea that was simply an interesting collection of objects, mainly from the natural world.

Here, you’ll find an amazing collection of moths. We tend never to see moths as they are usually out when we are in bed and many are now extinct or rare due to habitat loss. 

Two paintings to keep an eye for in the gallery are ‘Miner with Dog’ by Josef Herman and Augustus John’s ‘Welsh Mountains’. 

Other tips for Brecon

Across the road from Y Gaer is the Found Gallery, a beautiful space that is always well-curated by Punch Maughan.

The found gallery

The Found Gallery – across the road from Y Gaer.

She selects works from local artists and the exhibitions change frequently. Not just paintings but ceramics and jewellery as well, and most of the work is for sale. 

Follow your nose downhill to the river and take a walk along the Promenade which runs along the banks of the Usk.

The Hornbeam Avenue that lines Brecon Promenade with the river Usk on the left.

It is from here, during November, if you look carefully you can see salmon spawning in the gravel beds.

Walk under Hornbeam Avenue until you reach the Brecon Weir. The weir was constructed to provide the water for the Monmouth and Brecon Canal and still does, taking over 30 million litres of water a day from the Usk. 

You can visit the beginning of the canal, the basin while you are in Brecon as well if you wish, alongside the theatre. 

Brecon is very much a military town and its smart Victorian garrison building is still in use today (though I believe is about to be closed) you will pass it on the drive into the town.

Right on the outskirts of Brecon is the School of Infantry where all the army’s infantry officers and non-commissioned officers go for specialist training.

Adjacent to the Victorian garrison you can find The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh.

This is the Regiment descended from the regiment made famous for their defence of Rourke’s Drift in the Zulu Wars. 

 

Book your Brecon Beacons escape

Gliffaes Country House Hotel is nestled in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

We’ve created a useful guide of local attractions and activities in the Brecon Beacons, containing information on walks, things to do, local shopping, and places to visit, which you can use to help map out your visit to the Brecon Beacons.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a fresh, locally sourced lunch, dinner or afternoon tea, or somewhere comfortable to stay the night, our friendly country house hotel is the perfect base for your Brecon Beacons break.

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