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Information for Schools

There is a lot to see and do on your visit to Portsmouth Museum. Please see further down the page for information on the exhibitions. However, to make the most of your visit you may wish to book one of our Toys & Games from the Past workshops, details below.

Click here for our Autumn / Winter 2015 - 2016 Newsletter for Schools.

Wonder Boxes - the new-look loans collection from Portsmouth Museums

The first phase of our review of the Museum Loans Collection is complete and the first batch loan items, rebranded as Wonder Boxes, are available for use.

Our fabulous loans boxes are the perfect stimulus for creative work across the curriculum, including science, art & design, literacy and history.  Bring a little awe and wonder into your classroom with bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile specimens or skulls and skeletons.  Or bring the past to life with high quality model dinosaurs and original and replica artefacts illustrating life in Ancient Egypt.

Click here to download the latest edition of the illustrated Wonder Box Catalogue.

The catalogue lists all of the loans boxes currently available and explains how to book a box and the Terms and Conditions under which the loans scheme operates.  New boxes will be added to the catalogue as the review process continues, starting with pre-history and geology in 2015.

Toys, Games and Pastimes Workshop

Delivered by a member of the museum learning team, this fun, hands on session enables children to investigate and play with a range of toys and games from the past including vehicles, moving toys and board games. Taking on the role of Toy Detectives, children will explore materials, mechanisms, graphics and packaging to compare old and new and put the toys in chronological order. The historical room settings, Portsmouth at Play and Study in Sherlock displays in Portsmouth Museum complement this session perfectly.

Age Suitable for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
Venue Portsmouth Museum
Times The led workshop lasts one hour
Dates Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays on request, subject to availability of staff and Activities Room.  Minimum of three weeks’ notice required.

Note: this workshop is not available the weeks beginning 10th and 17th November 2014 and 2nd and 9th March 2015.
Cost £2 per pupil + VAT for all schools.
Minimum charge per workshop: £40 + VAT
Numbers 30 pupils maximum per workshop.

Groups can enjoy self-guided visits to related museum displays before or after their workshop.

Booking a Group Visit

For all enquiries, sessions and group visits please telephone 023 9283 4744 / 4737 and ask for the admin team or email us stating clearly your name, school contact details, number/age of children, which museum/exhibition/workshop you are interested in and your preferred dates/times.

If enquiring at weekends or when the museum's group department is unavailable, please contact Portsmouth Museum directly.


Length of Stay and Group Sizes

Unless you have booked a led session the typical visit time by a group is 1 - 1½ hours. The recommended maximum number arriving at any one time should not exceed 60 pupils. A teacher/pupil ratio of at least 1:15 is essential. (When school groups are in the museum, the behaviour of the children or students is the responsibility of the teacher in charge). When visiting ‘Story of Portsmouth’, ‘Portsmouth at Play’ or temporary exhibitions, it is advisable to split into smaller groups of 15/20 within the galleries to avoid overcrowding.


Free admission for self-led visits, groups must book in advance. Please see above for workshop charges. Cheques payable to ‘Portsmouth City Council’, Credit cards: MasterCard or Visa.


The main feature of the museum is ‘The Story of Portsmouth’, shown in four galleries. The first gallery provides the visitor with an introduction to the history of Portsmouth, including an audio-visual show. On the first floor the galleries are thematic. The ‘Portsmouth Picture Gallery’ displays the current exhibition of Portsmouth pictures, paintings and postcards showing scenes of bygone Portsmouth. The ‘Living in Portsmouth’ gallery tells the story of life in the home from the 16th century to the 1950s. This includes a 17th century bedchamber, an 1871 dockyard worker’s kitchen, a splendid Victorian parlour, a 1930’s kitchen and a 1950’s living room. Most of the rooms incorporate sound effects and/or figures. ‘No place like Pompey’ is a fascinating new exhibition that looks at the question, ‘What makes Portsmouth unique? Is it one particular place, the city’s geography, its past or its people? It includes the fact that most of Portsmouth lies on an island, the city’s links with the dockyard and the Royal Navy, and the fortifications that made Portsmouth one of the most heavily defended areas in the country. The ‘Portsmouth at Play’ gallery covers the development of Southsea as a seaside resort, theatres, cinemas, public houses, coffee bars (including ‘Verrechias’) and sport. Many of these themes are also shown on archive film. In addition to these galleries there is a ‘Fine and Decorative Art Gallery’ with displays on furniture, decorative art, ceramics, glass and textiles and a ‘Temporary Exhibition Gallery’ with regularly changing displays.

National Curriculum Links – A Broad and Balanced Approach

Portsmouth Museum is suitable for a wide range of National Curriculum work. Here are some suggestions of ways in which you can link your visit to National Curriculum areas. History KS 2 - Victorian Britain KS 2 - Britain since 1930 KS 2 - Local History KS 3 - Britain 1750-1900 KS 3 - The 20th-century World The History of Portsmouth. Chronology - a line through time from Anglo-Saxon settlers to the present day. 1500 - 1800 Defended City - the growth of the military presence in Portsmouth. Contrasts in Victorian times. Naval town and seaside resort. Changes in the 20th Century. “Home” through the ages - furniture, food, washing etc. Differences and similarities to modern day living. Amusements and pastimes. Geography KS 1 & KS 2 - Places KS 2 - Settlements Maps of the development of Portsmouth. Physical geography - the formation of chalk and Portsdown Hill. Effect on Portsmouth of changes in sea level. An Island City. English Texts about the exhibits, using a variety of genres: information, explanations, lists, recipes, fiction and playscripts. The History of Portsmouth. Art KS1 & KS2 - Introduction to works by local artists past and present. Appreciation of the work of Artists and Craftspeople 2-D and 3-D. Developing the use of appropriate vocabulary. Landscape - Portrait. Various media and ‘canvas’. Foreground - midground - background. Content - form - process - mood. Fine Art - materials, techniques. Mathematics Collecting Data. I C T Early electrical goods. Science and Technology Materials. Forces - Levers and the use of pulleys to lift weights (cooking pots). Cooking through the ages - appliances and utensils. Recipes from different times. Local wildlife.

Please book now

We look forward to welcoming you soon! Call us on 023 9283 4744 / 4737 to make a booking.

If enquiring at weekends or when the museum's group department is unavailable, please contact Portsmouth Museum directly.

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