Please click on the orange icons on the right of this page to see the websites about each of our individual museums.
Welcome to Portsmouth City Museum
We've caught the Fly!
Thanks to grants and generous public donations we are going to be able to acquire a watercolour painting by Thomas Rowlandson which depicts the stagecoach called the 'Portsmouth Fly' for the museum collections. Grants from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund have been promised for a large proportion of the cost. Further generous donations from members of the public and the Portsmouth Museums and Records Society, our 'Friends' organisation have ensured that this is one 'Fly' that isn't going to escape!
The painting shows the stagecoach racing towards Portsmouth on the London Road with Portsea island, Portsmouth Harbour and Sourhsea Castle in the background. Rowlandson was probably one of the most popular and well known artists of the 18th century and travelled to Portsmouth several times. It will join his famous painting 'Portsmouth Point' already in our collections, providing a different perspective. The museum has few paintings that show what Portsmouth was like in the 1790s so we are delighted that we will soon be welcoming this picture to our collections.
We are very appreciative of the generous donations made by several people and organisations, without their help we would not have been able to even consider the purchase of this special painting.
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 (iPods unavailable 4-8 February). 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
You can add pictures, memories and new entries of your own to Portsmouth’s new community history website www.ATaleOfOneCity.portsmouth.gov.uk to help build an online archive. What are you waiting for? Tell us your tales.
What's at Portsmouth City Museum
The City Museum explores different facets of Portsmouth’s rich and varied history – from the everyday to moments when the city has played its role in national and international events. The city’s art and design collections are showcased here.
Portsmouth is the birthplace of the novelist Charles Dickens and the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes (conceived of here by his creator Arthur Conan Doyle). For this year only – the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens - visitors can experience two great writers at the City Museum.
The museum provides an excellent introduction to the city for visitors and its inviting spaces and events programme are popular with residents.
The museum with its turrets and pointed roofs - reminiscent of a fairy-tale castle- is in fact a former barracks. Its formally laid out, south-facing garden is used in the summer for events.
The museum is home to a new Visitor Information point which means visitors can find out about the city’s wider cultural offer as well as booking accommodation and tickets to the city’s other cultural venues and attractions.
16 March 2013 - 15 September 2013
Teddy Bear Story
Teddy Bear Story explores the history of the teddy bear from the first designs based on real animals to modern character and designer bears, and from the earliest manufacturers in Europe and the USA to production on a world-wide scale.
Bears have featured in folk and fairy tales for centuries and the exhibition will feature bears from the unrivalled collections of the V&A Museum of Childhood including those from picture books, film and television, and even teddy bears with their own personal stories to tell. This engaging exhibition will also look at the materials and designs used to make teddy bears, and how social and economic change and safety concerns have influenced how these cuddly companions are made.
The Dickens Quilts
Members of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles in the Portsmouth area have made twelve individual quilts to celebrate the birth of Charles Dickens. They are based on the theme “What Dickens Means to You” and very different in style. The quilts will be on display until end of October 2013 and can be found at the City Museum on all three floors in the stairwell leading to the Fine and Decorative Art Gallery.
The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles is a national membership organisation which promotes and collects patchwork and quilting from traditional to contemporary design. The Guild displays their collection at their Museum and Gallery in York. To find out more about the Guild, click here to see their website.
No place like Pompey
What makes Portsmouth unique? Is it one particular place, the city’s geography, its past or its people? This exhibition looks at some of the things that make "Pompey” special. This is the UK’s only island city, the city is ringed by forts both on land and in the sea and its history has been shaped by its relationship with the Royal Navy and Dockyard. The exhibition explains many of the things you will notice as you explore the city and the visitor information staff at the museum will help plan your visit.
A Study in Sherlock: Uncovering the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection
This exhibition showcases the largest collection pertaining to Doyle and his creation Sherlock Holmes in the world. The gallery explores Doyle’s early life as a doctor in Portsmouth, his sporting activity and later interest in spiritualism as well as Sherlock Holmes as depicted in film, theatre, advertising and elsewhere. It includes a Sherlock Holmes mystery and a narration by Stephen Fry, patron of the collection.
Discover the paintings you own! Our picture gallery is currently highlighting the work of the Public Catalogue Foundation to catalogue all the oil paintings held in public collections in the UK. A selection of the paintings included from Portsmouth’s collections is shown here. Click here to see all the oil paintings held by Portsmouth Museums and Archives.
Other galleries explore the city’s relationship with football - especially Pompey’s FA Cup wins in 2008 and 1939 – the seaside at Southsea and Portsmouth homes from 1680 to 1960. The Fine and Decorative Art Gallery features our wide range of artwork from seventeenth century chairs to contemporary ceramics, from serene landscape paintings by the local Cole family of artists to vivid abstract paintings of the twentieth century.