Portsmouth Museums & Records Service is part of Portsmouth City Council
Click here to view website
Welcome to the home page for Portsmouth Museums & Visitor Services
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.
There are over 100 objects on show in A Hard Choice, including paintings and drawings, taxidermied birds and animals, furniture, glass, pottery, a mousetrap, an eel spear and a Second World War bomb.
Or pick up a self-led gallery trail for A Hard Choice – available in Portsmouth Museum for 50p.
Community Collections Showcase
Visitors to A Hard Choice are also able to see highlights from three collections owned by Portsmouth residents. The collections were chosen from the entries in a public competition and will be shown in turn in the Community Collections Showcase:
Back to the Future
31 March to 17 May
A selection of screen-used and reproduction props and memorabilia from the 1985 film and its two sequels.
Royal Memorabilia Clocks and Watches
19 May to 19 July
Clocks and watches produced to commemorate events in the lives of the British royal family from the 1890s to the present day.
Percy F Westerman (1876 - 1959)
21 July to 27 September
Books by the Portsmouth-born writer of adventure stories for children which demonstrate changing trends in book cover illustration.
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.
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 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.
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 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:
- Portsmouth Museum
- D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery
- Natural History Museum, Cumberland House
- Southsea Castle
- Charles Dickens Birthplace
- Eastney Beam Engine House
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 Cecily Headley, Involving Volunteers Officer at email@example.com or call 02392 834914.
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.
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.