We are welcoming residents back to our museum next week with a fantastic exhibition dedicated to the stunning work of local resident and Royal Academician John Russell (1745-1806).

The ‘John Russell, A Georgian Portrait Painter at Work’ exhibition opens on Wednesday 26 May at 12pm and runs throughout the summer until 9 October 2021. The show introduces John Russell and his working practices through a small selection of his pastel portraits.

The display includes activities for families inviting visitors to look more closely at the paintings and paint a portrait of their own.

As with all of our exhibitions, entry is free.

John Russell RA was renowned for pastel portraiture in the late 1700s and an appointed painter to King George III. He was born in Guildford in 1745. His father was town Mayor five times, and he attended the Royal Grammar School.

He captured images of people from all walks of life, from quirky local characters, sober citizens, celebrities of the day and royalty. We hold one of the largest collections of John Russell’s work in the UK.


Lead Councillor for Economy, Cllr John Redpath says:

“It’s fantastic that we are able to welcome our residents back to the museum in person, and who better to open with than local artist to the king, John Russell – one of the leading portrait painters of his time. His skilful application of colours using dry pastels is simply magnificent.

“Let’s rediscover the creative side within us and support our local venues as they reopen. We look forward to seeing you. Half-term provides a good chance to bring the family for a visit and enjoy lunch in town or a picnic in one of our award-winning green spaces”.


Our Museum is housed in beautiful, historic buildings next to the Castle Grounds. The exhibitions are free to visit and include a variety of changing displays, plus a permanent collection of objects telling the story of our borough and surrounding areas.

The Museum is open weekly from Wednesday until Saturday, 12noon – 4pm, with a programme of activities for different ages and interests. For more information on the exhibitions and other programmes please contact heritageservices@guildford.gov.uk or like and follow us on social media.

Later in the year, a partner to the museum exhibition, a show entitled ‘Georgian Women, Portraits by John Russell’ will open at Guildford House Gallery.