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Exhibitions at our museums

More information about the latest exhibitions at our museums.


Edward King: a life in art
At Portsmouth Museum

Painting by Edward King showing bomb damage

Artist Edward King was a patient at St James' Hospital in Portsmouth from 1926 until his death in 1951 aged 89. He continued to paint and documented the hospital grounds, the houseboats at nearby Milton Locks and the aftermath of the bomb damage from the Blitz in the city. This new display includes around 70 paintings plus photographs, archival material and objects from Portsmouth's museum collections.


WL Wyllie RA: Maritime artist and printmaker
At Portsmouth Museum

Currently on display at Portsmouth Museum is a small collection of watercolours, etchings and oil sketches by maritime artist WL Wyllie RA.

William Lionel Wyllie is regarded as one of "the most distinguished maritime artists of his day".

'HMS Victory and the dockyard, Portsmouth' watercolour c.1930 by WL Wyllie

He was born in 1851 in London and was encouraged by his family, from a young age to paint and draw. He exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of seventeen and in his twenties established a reputation as a maritime artist, technically accurate in depicting shipping of all types. He and his family moved to Portsmouth in 1907 where he continued to live until his death in 1931. During his time in Portsmouth he remained a keen yachtsman, was founder of the 1st Portsmouth Sea Scouts and perhaps most significantly played a key role in the restoration of HMS Victory.

Wyllie and Turner

Did you know: Wyllie found great inspiration from the work of JMW Turner and whilst they were born 76 years apart their lives were inextricably connected. In their own lifetime at the age of 15 years old they each studied at the Royal Academy and displayed a precocious talent for painting. When Turner died in 1851 he bequeathed the sum of £20,000 to the Royal Academy to be made into a gold medal for landscape painting. From 1859 the RA awarded the Turner Medal every two years at its summer exhibition. WL Wyllie was awarded this accolade in 1869 at the age of 18 years old.

They went on to become highly revered artists each demonstrating skilful techniques in the use of watercolours and oils. They were prolific exhibitors at the Royal Academy and were both elected RA members. These two artists each had strong ties with Portsmouth; Turner travelled to the area many times, making several paintings of the area and the ships in the harbour; and Wyllie lived here for 25 years and was fascinated by naval shipping and the costal landscape.

'Gosport, The Entrance to Portsmouth Harbour' watercolour c.1829 by JMW Turner features in this display, and shows the direct influence that he had on Wyllie.

Wyllie and HMS Victory

HMS Victory was something of a muse for Wyllie and he campaigned vigorously for its restoration. He chaired the first meeting of the Society for Nautical Research in 1910 and supported its campaign to save it from rotting, culminating in 1922 when it was berthed in the dry-dock at Portsmouth. He also painted a 42-foot panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar which is still on permanent display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth Dockyard.

'HMS Victory' drypoint etching c.1929 by WL Wyllie

WL Wyllie RA: Maritime artist and printmaker will be on display in the museum's Prints & Drawings Room from 27 May.


Game Over: The Future of the Past
At Portsmouth Museum

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 4o 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 100 machines on display. An exciting programme of events will be running alongside the exhibition, including the chance to make your own video-game inspired pixel-artworks with local artist Kendal James. Game Over: The Future of the Past is a hands-on experience for veteran gamers and newbies alike - don’t miss it.


An A to Z of Natural History
At Portsmouth Natural History Museum, Cumberland House

Flamingo in A to Z exhibition

The natural world is incredible! Portsmouth Museums has over 114,000 natural science specimens collected both in the south east of England and further afield.

The A to Z of Natural History display features a selection of them. From tiny insects, to fossils which are millions of years old, you will be amazed at the variety in the city's collections!

There are several reasons for keeping and caring for natural science specimens.  They can be a valuable resource for helping us to understand the world around us, providing useful information about the flora and fauna in an area at a particular time.  Scientists can identify and analyse changes and predict trends for the future by comparing specimens from the same place collected at different times.  We hope that you enjoy this new display and that it inspires you to take a closer look at the natural world where you live.


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

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.

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