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 & Records Service

New Exhibition at Portsmouth Museum!
A Hard Choice
14 February – 27 September 2015

Stories behind Portsmouth’s collections of art and design.

What do a Turner watercolour, a 13th century cosmetic jar and a gramophone painted by Dora Carrington have in common?

They were all acquired for Portsmouth Museums during the curatorship of Rosalinda Hardiman over the past 35 years. Rosalinda is the ‘Queen of Eclectics’, a curator with wide ranging interests and full of arcane and quirky facts.

Showcasing the diversity of Portsmouth's collections, Rosalinda reveals the stories behind the objects and the hidden world of the curator. The exhibition will share her knowledge and joy in museum collections. Fine and decorative art will feature strongly.

Many items have not been displayed for over thirty years, including prints by Walter Sickert. A group of fifteenth century ceramics from south-east Asia will be on show for the first time in this exhibition.

Community Collections Showcase

As part of our upcoming exhibition, 'A Hard Choice' at Portsmouth Museum, we would like you to share your own collections with the city! Have you been collecting something since childhood or do you collect something now? What attracted you to collect these things? It doesn’t matter what you collect, we’d like to hear from you.

We have reserved one showcase in the exhibition to show selected highlights from 3 collections belonging to Portsmouth residents. Entries will be reviewed and a maximum of 12 collections will be shortlisted. A judging panel will then select 3 winners to be displayed in turn in ‘A Hard Choice’ at Portsmouth Museum.

Click here for more information on the Community Collections Showcase. 

New Social Groups for Over 50s
Would you like to meet new people, have fun and get creative?  If so our new social groups for ex-service personnel and civilians could be just for you. To find out more, click here.

Where are you going?
Journeys in pictures from the collections of Portsmouth Museums

Portsmouth's collections include many works of art that show people on the move.  In this selection of paintings, photographs and prints people use different types of transport to travel on land, by water and in the air.  Some pictures show recognisable places and familiar journeys - ferry trips on the Solent and people travelling around the city by bicycle or on foot.  Others depict less obvious journeys and are more open to interpretation.  So come on down to Portsmouth Museum and see where we can take you.


First World War Centenary - 2014 will mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. Portsmouth Museums and Archive Service are part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by the Imperial War Museum. The partnership will present a global programme of cultural events and activities from 2014-2018 to commemorate the centenary. Portsmouth Museum has been awarded £97,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for Lest We Forget - a project which will commemorate the anniversary of the start of the First World War.

A Tale of One City Website
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.

Magnifying Sherlock A chance for you to turn detective in Portsmouth Museum grounds and follow the trail of the ultimate sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, and his creator Arthur Conan Doyle, who lived and worked in Portsmouth. Stream this thrilling free experience as you follow in the footsteps of Sherlock on a navigational trail. Use your smartphone to stream the Magnifying Sherlock trail for free, or hire out an iPod from Portsmouth Museum reception desk with the trails pre-loaded.* Click here to follow the trail around Portsmouth Museum (first part of the trail), then take the adventure into the grounds of the museum here (second part of the adventure).

*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 Portsmouth Museum, aimed at families, rather than a guided tour of the ‘A Study in Sherlock’ exhibition.

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

Visitor Information - There are now Visitor Information Points at both Portsmouth Museum and the D-Day Museum. See the Visit Portsmouth website for more information.

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.

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: 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 Archives 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.

Volunteers 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.

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. If you want to purchase a Portsmouth Paper please contact the Retail Manager.

Portsmouth City Council Logo All pictures are copyright of Portsmouth Museums

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