Portsmouth Museums & Records Service is part of Portsmouth City Council
Click here to view website
Welcome to the home page for Portsmouth Museums & Records Service
Featured exhibition: 'Secret Egypt - Unravelling truth from myth' at Portsmouth City Museum, 5th October 2013 - 23rd February 2014
This new blockbuster exhibition at explores the popular myths behind modern-day misconceptions about ancient Egypt and includes themes such as 'Did aliens build the pyramids?' and 'Beware the mummy's curse'. Egypt has always fascinated people but many of the most commonly held beliefs on the subject are mere fabrications by the film industry. Secret Egypt will show that a truer picture of the past can still be remarkable. Bringing together 150 objects, this Herbert Touring exhibition has been developed in partnership with Birmingham Museums Trust.
Try our smartphone app: Magnifying Sherlock
A chance for you to turn detective in the City Museum grounds and follow the trail of the ultimate sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, and his creator Arthur Conan Doyle, who lived and worked in Portsmouth. Download this thrilling free experience as you follow in the footsteps of Sherlock on a navigational trail. Use your smartphone to download Magnifying Sherlock for free from the Portsmouth Writers app, or hire out an iPod from the City Museum reception desk. If you borrow an iPod you will be required to show photo ID such as a drivers licence. This is an outdoors trail around the grounds of the City Museum, aimed at families, rather than a guided tour of the 'A Study in Sherlock' exhibition. Click here to download the iPhone and iPad version, or click here for the Android version.
A Tale of One City - Want to find out more about the people and places which tell the story of Portsmouth? www.ATaleOfOneCity.portsmouth.gov.uk is Portsmouth’s new community history website. You can add pictures, memories and new entries of your own to the site to help build an online archive. What are you waiting for? Tell us your tales.
Past News - Visit this page for news of some of our past projects.
Visitor Information - There are now Visitor Information Points at both the City Museum and the D-Day Museum. See the Visit Portsmouth website for more information.
Heritage100 - This is a new website of interesting and quirky items from museums and archives across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Click here to see the Heritage100 website.
About Portsmouth Museums and Records
You will find a wealth of collections in our museums illustrating all aspects of Portsmouth and a great day out for families, schools or anyone who wants to find out more about our city. The six museums we run are: City Museum, Cumberland House Natural History Museum, Dickens’ Birthplace Museum, D-Day Museum, Eastney Beam Engine House and Southsea Castle. Admission is free to all our museums except Dickens’ Birthplace and D-Day.
To use the city’s archives visit the Portsmouth History Centre.
Portsmouth Museums and Archives manages: City Museum, Cumberland House Natural History Museum, Dickens’ Birthplace Museum, D-Day Museum, Eastney Beam Engine House and Southsea Castle.
You can help us in a number of ways - by Volunteering or by making a Donation or by donating Objects and Archives to the collections. You can also help by buying birthday cards and gifts in our museum shops or getting married in one of our venues.
Support us behind the scenes with work on the collections and help us to deliver our activity programmes. We are currently recruiting people who would like to be trained as volunteer guides at Cumberland House Natural History Museum and the Dickens Birthplace. If you would like to find out more please contact us by email.
Objects and Archives
Portsmouth’s collections have developed over the years largely through the generosity of specialist collectors and members of the public.
We continue to collect objects to develop our existing collections in all of our major subject areas - archaeology, natural history, fine art, decorative arts, social history, military history [and literary history]. Our curators and archivists accept items that are in good condition and which fall into the categories outlined in our Acquisitions and Disposals policy. They also look at whether there is accompanying information about the history of the object, whether we are able to provide care and storage for the object and whether or not we already have a similar object in the collection.
Every item offered is carefully considered by our curators. If we do accept the object, it will not necessarily go on permanent display, but will be accessible for research and could appear in temporary exhibitions.
If you would like give an object, please contact the museum’s Registrar on 023 9283 4766.
Donations of funding
Our collections reflect the life and culture of the city of Portsmouth – from the everyday to moments when the city has played its role in national and international events. Our museums welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year. Caring for collections and the often historic buildings in which they are displayed - to ensure they are available not only for this but also future generations is an expensive business.
Although we are funded by local government - and work hard to secure funds from sources such as the lottery - donations, endowments and bequests of any size are welcomed; any gift makes a difference.
To discuss making a donation, contact the Museum and Records Service Manager on 023 9283 4788.
By working in the community we help to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from the city’s museums and archive collections.
With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, in 2012 we worked on a community archive project to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens in Portsmouth. Community groups from across the city were introduced to the city’s archives, visited the Portsmouth History Centre, received training in archival techniques – such as recording oral histories – and invited to create their own archive. Groups who particularly enjoyed the experience have gone on to use the city archives to research some of the themes that Dickens wrote about. Their work was added to the 'A tale of one city' exhibition at the City Museum. We also created an online community archive as part of the project. You can add pictures, memories and new entries of your own to the site to help tell the story of the city: www.ATaleOfOneCity.portsmouth.gov.uk.
There is a lot to see and do on your visit to our museums. However, to make the most of your visit you may wish to book one of our specialist led workshops. These are run at most of our sites and cater for both primary and secondary age children. For more details please see the individual sites.
Portsmouth’s collections cover a vast array of subjects; notably social history, military history, natural history, fine and decorative art and the literary collections pertaining to Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan-Doyle.
Please note that although any item from the museums and archive collections can be viewed by appointment, only a proportion of the collection is on display at any given time. So, if you are making a special trip, or travelling some distance to see a particular item please let us know you are coming.
The city archives can be accessed via the Portsmouth History Centre at the Central Library. Contact the PHC before you visit to ensure that the documents and facilities you require are available. Subject to staff availability, we are able to carry out research on your behalf (this service will incur a charge). To find out more about our oral history collections, which can be accessed at the Portsmouth History Centre, click here.
We have limited facilities for researchers who require access to the museum collections. Please contact the Collections Manager or Registrar in advance of your visit. Subject to staff availability, we are able to carry out research on your behalf (this service will incur a charge). Paintings from our collections can also be seen on the BBC's Your Paintings website: click here.
We publish the work of individuals researching particular aspects of the history of Portsmouth. If you would like to propose a topic please contact John Stedman. If you want to purchase a Portsmouth Paper please contact the Retail Manager.
All pictures are copyright of Portsmouth Museums and