Portsmouth City Council
Portsmouth Museums & Records Service is part of Portsmouth City Council
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Welcome to the home page for Portsmouth Museums & Visitor Services

Currently on display at Portsmouth Museum

Rediscovery: The decorative arts

Grayson Perry Vase

200 years of design history in ceramics, furniture, textiles, decorative tiles, embroidery, illustrations and glass from the decorative arts collection. The artists, designers and craft makers featured include: Vanessa Bell, Dora Carrington, William De Morgan, Christopher Dresser, Duncan Grant, Bernard Leech, AWN Pugin and Lucie Rie. Also kindly on loan from the Crafts Council, a ceramic piece by Grayson Perry, who studied at Portsmouth Art College.

Game Over: The Future of the Past

Portsmouth Museum and Game Over are proud to present Game Over: The Future of the Past, the largest single private collection of TV games, home computers and consoles on display in the UK. From the first Pong TV game to the latest PlayStation console, this new free exhibition spans over 40 years of home video gaming.

Practice your retro gaming skills on a hand-picked selection of playable consoles and explore the history of the video game with over 140 machines on display. Also an exciting programme of events will be running alongside the exhibition. Game Over: The Future of the Past is a hands-on experience for veteran gamers and newbies alike - don’t miss it!


Portsmouth museums receive national recognition 
Six Portsmouth museums have been awarded national accreditation status by Arts Council England. Charles Dickens' Birthplace, Cumberland House, D-Day Museum, Eastney Beam Engine House, Portsmouth Museum and Southsea Castle have all achieved the coveted status. The accreditation scheme sets nationally agreed standards for all museums in the UK. It allows participating museums to demonstrate their commitment to managing collections effectively for the enjoyment and benefit of audiences. Applicants are assessed against a set criteria which covers a range of museum activities. The six Portsmouth City Council operated sites have had to demonstrate they meet requirements relating to governance and management, services and facilities and care and management of collections. Visitors to the museums will benefit from the work done as it includes the creation of a customer charter which features 10 points to ensure all guests have the best possible experience. Annette French, museums accreditation manager, Arts Council England, said: “Being awarded accreditation is an impressive achievement. It recognises the high standard and service that Portsmouth museums provide and acknowledges the hard work of the volunteers and staff.”

Past News - Visit this page for news of some of our past projects.

Visitor Information - There is a Visitor Information Point at Portsmouth Museum. See the Visit Portsmouth website for more information.

Beginning on 13 March 2017 the D-Day Museum is undergoing a complete refurbishment and is not open to the public. This is part of our exciting £4.9 million Transforming the D-Day Museum project, assisted by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Read more about this exciting project here. The Museum will re-open in spring 2018, with completely new displays about D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, told through the stories of those who took part.

View our collections on-line - Find out more about our oral history collections: click here. Paintings from our collections can also be seen on the BBC’s Your Paintings website: click here.

About Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services

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: Portsmouth 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.

Get involved Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services manages: Portsmouth 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.

Museum and Heritage Volunteers Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Service is seeking enthusiastic volunteers to enhance the experience of visitors across its museums and heritage sites. You would be working alongside the Front of House team to ensure the smooth day to day running of the Museums and also working in the exhibitions interpreting the displays and interacting with visitors.

The roles would cover the six Portsmouth City Council museums and heritage sites which attract thousands of visitors each year:

The roles are diverse and could involve  talking to a visitor about a particular display, patrolling the exhibitions and reporting any issues, dressing up in period costume, taking a small group of visitors on a tour, checking humidity levels, display case maintenance, helping set up and support events and activities and gathering feedback from visitors.

We would provide you with ongoing support and training to help you feel confident delivering these tasks and enable you to develop new skills in a friendly and safe environment. We are looking for volunteers who have, or would like to develop, a passion for history and heritage and to gain experience in a busy heritage environment and understand how museums are run. This is a great opportunity to be part of a friendly team offering an outstanding experience to thousands of visitors and residents of Portsmouth.

If you are interested in volunteering and would like more information about the roles and how to get involved, please contact the Involving Volunteers Officer at museumvolunteers@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or call 023 9243 7791 or 023 9283 4779.

If you have a particular interest in volunteering in a specific site/s, please let us know.

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.

Community projects 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 Portsmouth 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.

Schools 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.

Museum Collections 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.

Oral history collections Click here to find out more about our oral history collections (recordings of people's memories), which can be accessed at the Portsmouth History Centre.

Archives The city archives can be accessed at the Portsmouth History Centre at the Central Library. Please see the Portsmouth History Centre website for more information.

Portsmouth Papers 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 at Portsmouth History Centre. If you want to purchase a Portsmouth Paper please contact the Retail Manager.

Portsmouth City Council Logo All pictures are copyright of Portsmouth Museums & Visitor Services

Portsmouth Museums Portal
Visit the City Museums site
Visit the Natural History Museum Site
Visit the Southsea Castle site
Visit the Records Office site
Visit the Charles Dickens site
Visit the D-Day Museum site