THE ARTS Minister was able to see a national treasure when he visited the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

Michael Ellis studied the Pillar Portrait, Branwell Bronte’s famous painting of his sisters, when he toured the Haworth museum last week.

Mr Ellis, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, spent a day in West Yorkshire visiting various attractions including the Eureka! children’s museum in Halifax.

He also toured the Cultural Space on Hanover Street in Keighley, which has been transformed from the Sunwin House department store into a workshop and gallery facility for local artists.

Kitty Wright, Executive Director of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, said it had been a pleasure to show Michael Ellis around the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

She said: “It is a place which very much exemplifies all three aspects of his portfolio of arts, heritage and tourism.

“We were particularly proud to show him the iconic Pillar Portrait, painted by Branwell Bronte and currently on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.

“Our location in Haworth, in the house where the Bronte sisters’ extraordinary novels were written, on the edge of the moors that so informed their work, is immensely important to us and central to the Brontes’ story.

“It is therefore quite fitting that the Minister was able to see the painting, the only known surviving portrait that shows all three sisters together, while it is spending the summer with us here, in the place it was painted, as part of our Bronte 200 celebrations.”

The Bronte Parsonage Museum is spearheading a five-year celebration of the Bronte family, including the 200th anniversaries of all four siblings.

This year the focus is on Emily Bronte, writer of the novel Wuthering Heights, who was born in 1819.