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Welcome to Portsmouth City Museum


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Now open at Portsmouth City Museum!

Lest We Forget - Remember Portsmouth People and the First World War
Until 25th January 2015

At the heart of the Lest We Forget exhibition are collections relating to some 200 individuals connected to the city: servicemen and women, as well as civilians supporting the war effort at home. The collection includes photographs, documents, medals, memorials, certificates of thanks, commemorative and war effort items, as well as gifts to servicemen provided by Princess Mary. Objects entrusted into the City's care by descendants, reveal stories that offer tantalising glimpses into the lives of local people caught up in this world wide conflict. Portsmouth Museum invites visitors of all ages to uncover personal stories that reveal the fates of those involved on their journeys of chance, choice and destiny in the First World War.

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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  
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