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Welcome to Portsmouth City Museum


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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. 

Now open at Portsmouth City Museum!

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 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.

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

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  

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  
Take a trip to the Picture Gallery to see over 65 paintings, photographs and prints on the theme of 'journeys'.  All of the pictures on display are from the collections of Portsmouth Museums.  Click here to see all of the oil paintings held by the city on the Your Paintings website, produced as a result of the work of the Public Catalogue Foundation to catalogue all of the oil paintings held in public collections in the UK.

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