Type of Venue






Or Venue Name


image for Art Gallery item typeFirstsite

  • VistEngland VAQAS
  • Self-assessed Accessibility Information

Art Gallery, free entry


firstsite, photo: Richard Bryant, arcaidimages.com

firstsite, photo: Richard Bryant, arcaidimages.com



Lewis Gardens,
High Street,


firstsite is the East of England's contemporary visual arts organisation. From its spectacular golden building designed by world-renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, firstsite presents a varied and challenging programme of exhibitions, commissions, residencies and screenings, in a broad range of media and art forms, by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.

At firstsite, visitors will experience the most exciting developments in contemporary art, and explore the rich artistic legacy cultivated by the East of England's unique landscape and character.

firstsite also offers a wide-ranging programme of creative events and activities for the whole family - from drop-in sessions for parents and toddlers, to intensive art and craft courses for adults, and special screenings, live theatre, opera and ballet screened from across the world, talks and debates in its state-of-the-art auditorium. A flourishing programme of work with diverse groups including schoolchildren, older people, young parents and looked after children aims to bring people together through free shared creative activities - inside the building and at grassroots level in the local community.

firstsite is proud to be a partner of Plus Tate, an 18-strong affiliation of regional galleries, including The Baltic in Gateshead, Turner Contemporary in Margate and The Hepworth Wakefield, which join together to exchange ideas, knowledge, skills and resources, as well as programmes and collections.

Where art meets commerce

An iconic, golden-clad crescent in the heart of historic Colchester, the new firstsite building has fast become an international centre for the contemporary visual arts, and also an exciting new cultural, social and commercial space for Essex and the region.
You can hire firstsite's 180-seat tiered auditorium, hi-spec meeting rooms and function space for a host of business purposes, including conferences, presentations, and product launches. firstsite is also available for club and society meetings, and makes a spectacular backdrop to private parties and celebrations.

Something for everyone

firstsite is a place to meet, discover, learn - and just relax.
At the firstsite shop, you'll discover a covetable range of design-led gifts and souvenirs.

firstsite is completely free to enter, but through donations, memberships and legacies, you can contribute to its important work providing employment and learning opportunities for local people, and support for local and regional artist practitioners. Visit ww.firstsite.uk.net and click on 'Support us' to find out more.

Plan your visit

Located in the heart of historic Colchester's, just yards from the famous Castle and all the town's major high street shops and independent boutiques, firstsite is easily reached by road or rail, and just a short walk from several town-centre car parks. Fully accessible throughout, firstsite welcomes assistance dogs and provides a hearing loop in the auditorium and learning spaces, plus large-print exhibition guides and labels on request. To plan your trip and check seasonal opening hours, please go to the 'Visit' channel at www.firstsite.uk.net

Baby changing facilitiesCoach parties acceptedCredit cards accepted (no fee)Credit cards accepted (with charge)Disabled accessDisabled toiletsEducation/study areaFacilities for groupsFacilities for educational visitsGift shopOn-site cateringOn-site light refreshmentsPicnic sitePublic toiletsRegional Tourist Board MemberWelcome HostWheelchairs availableAccepts groupsFacilities for conferencingFacilities for corporate hospitality

Children welcomeDisabled accessDogs not accepted (except guidedogs)Smoking not allowedFacilities for hearing impaired

Opening details

Monday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm


Free entry


Events at this Venue



Plan route to Firstsite using Google mapsPlan route using Google maps

Map reference: TL 999252  Lat: 51.88968 Long: 0.90477

By Road:
Follow signs to the Town Centre.

Accessible by Public Transport: 1 mile from Colchester Town station


  • Baby changing facilitiesBaby changing facilities
  • Coach parties acceptedCoach parties accepted
  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)Credit cards accepted (no fee)
  • Credit cards accepted (with charge)Credit cards accepted (with charge)
  • Disabled accessDisabled access
  • Disabled toiletsDisabled toilets
  • Education/study areaEducation/study area
  • Facilities for groupsFacilities for groups
  • Facilities for educational visitsFacilities for educational visits
  • Gift shopGift shop
  • On-site cateringOn-site catering
  • On-site light refreshmentsOn-site light refreshments
  • Picnic sitePicnic site
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets
  • Regional Tourist Board MemberRegional Tourist Board Member
  • Welcome HostWelcome Host
  • Wheelchairs availableWheelchairs available
  • Accepts groupsAccepts groups
  • Facilities for conferencingFacilities for conferencing
  • Facilities for corporate hospitalityFacilities for corporate hospitality
  • Children welcomeChildren welcome
  • Disabled accessDisabled access
  • Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)
  • Smoking not allowedSmoking not allowed
  • Facilities for hearing impairedFacilities for hearing impaired

Self-Assessed Accessibility Details


  • YesDesignated parking for guests with disabilities
    • YesWithin 50 metres approx. of entrance
  • The surface of the car park and pathway leading to entrance:
    • Yesis solid
  • YesDrop-off point for guests outside entrance
  • The route from the parking area to the entrance:
    • YesIs flat (i.e. without steps)

Public Areas

  • Level access (no steps/thresholds) or access by ramp or lift:
    • YesFrom the entrance to reception / ticket area
    • YesTo a specially adapted public toilet suitable for wheelchair users
    • YesTo the gift shop
  • YesGood contrast between the floor and walls
  • YesContrast markings on clear surfaces such as glass doors
  • YesBaby changing facilities
  • YesVisitor information available in large print (14pt and over)
  • YesHearing loop installed in public areas


  • YesSeating available for visitors with limited mobility
  • YesClear signage
  • YesEffective lighting for visually impaired visitors
  • YesGood colour/tonal contrast for visually impaired visitors
  • YesRoutes/pathways suitable for wheelchair users or visitors with limited mobility
  • YesDisplays at suitable height for wheelchair users / children
  • YesAudible alarm system


  • YesEntrance is well lit
  • YesAutomatic door at the main entrance


  • YesLevel access (no steps/thresholds) or access by ramp or lift to cafeteria
  • YesGood contrast between the floor and walls
  • Restaurant / cafe provide meals for visitors with special dietary requirements:
    • YesSugar free (diabetic)
    • YesGluten free (coeliacs)
    • YesLactose free (dairy free)
    • YesNut free
    • YesAdditive free
    • YesVegetarian
    • YesVegan
  • YesSeating suitable for wheelchair users, ie moveable and good height for person sitting in a wheelchair
  • YesHigh chairs for children
  • YesChildren's menu