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Welcome to Portsmouth City Museum


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New exhibition:

15th March 2014 - 29th June 2014
Tricorn - Love It or Hate It?
Portsmouth City Museum

Ten years on, the Tricorn still inspires passionate reactions. This exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum explores its story and the people who used it. The exhibition seeks to present a rounded picture of this controversial building, the good points as well as its failings.  It includes not only architectural drawings, photographs and pieces of Tricorn concrete, but also oral history recordings of local people involved in the building as builders, planners and its users, together with works of art inspired by it.  Contemporary fashion, material on other local buildings and on Brutalist structures elsewhere in Britain help to give the Tricorn its context. A significant number of local people have been involved by lending artefacts for the exhibition or contributing their memories.

Future exhibitions

19th July 2014 - 25th January 2015
Lest We Forget
Portsmouth City Museum

Lest we Forget , opening at Portsmouth Museum on  July 19th 2014, will use the city's museum and archive collections to reveal  some of the stories of the people who took part in World War One at the front and at home.  Visitors will be invited to search for and uncover some of these stories for themselves.

The exhibition forms part of the City's programme of commemorative events for 2014.

Latest News:

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. 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 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).

A Tale of One City
You can add pictures, memories and new entries of your own to Portsmouth’s new community history website to help build an online archive. What are you waiting for? Tell us your tales.

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

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. 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.

Permanent Exhibitions  

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.

Picture Gallery  
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 
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.

Portsmouth City MuseumsAll pictures are copyright of Portsmouth Museums and Records Service

Portsmouth Records Office
Visit the Records Office site
Visit the Natural History Museum Site
Visit the D-day museum site
Visit the Charles Dickens Birthplace site
Visit the Southsea Castle site
Visit the Portsmouth Museum Portal site


Looking at the 1950s living room

Fine and decorative art on display

Portsmouth at Play gallery

Museum shop