The Museum opened in 1872 followed by the Art Gallery in 1906. The City Museum and Art Gallery houses important collections of geology, natural history, Eastern art, world wildlife, Egyptology, archaeology and seven galleries of fine and applied art. There is a regular programme of temporary exhibitions.
The Eastern art collection, comprising over 6,000 objects, is one of three collections at Bristol that has been ��designated' by the government as being of outstanding national importance. The main strength of the collection lies in its Chinese ceramics and glass. However there is also a significant collection of over 1,000 Japanese objects. There is an outstanding group of some 500 woodblock prints of the mid- 18th to early 19th century, containing examples by Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utamaro (1753-1806) as well as less well-known artists such as Kiyomitsu (1735-85) and Shunsho (1726-93). There are also three hundred netsuke and okimono , one hundred sword fittings along with ceramics, textiles, lacquer and books. The museum recently bought twenty contemporary Japanese prints and paper fans.
There is currently a small display of Kakiemon porcelain alongside Kakiemon-inspired European designs. Other Japanese collections may be seen in periodic exhibitions or by appointment with the curator.