List of museums in Dorset

This list of museums in Dorset, England contains museums which are defined for this context as institutions (including nonprofit organizations, government entities, and private businesses) that collect and care for objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest and make their collections or related exhibits available for public viewing. Also included are non-profit art galleries and university art galleries. Museums that exist only in cyberspace (i.e., virtual museums) are not included.

Name Image Town/City Type Summary
Anvil Point LighthouseSwanageMaritimeLighthouse open for tours, located within Durlston Country Park
AthelhamptonDorchesterHistoric house15th-century manor house and gardens
Beaminster MuseumBeaminsterLocalwebsite, local history, archaeology, agriculture
Bennetts Water GardensChickerellMultiple8-acre (32,000 m2) garden, collection of water lilies, local history museum
Blandford Fashion MuseumBlandfordFashionwebsite, costumes and accessories from the 1730s to the 1970s
Blandford Town MuseumBlandfordLocalwebsite, local history, trades, archaeology, military, railway
Bridport MuseumBridportLocalwebsite, local history, textiles, fossils, art
Bournemouth Aviation MuseumHurnAviationAirplanes, engines, cockpits, a double-decker bus
Bournemouth Natural Science SocietyBournemouthNatural historywebsite, open for events and open house days, includes preserved plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, eggs and shells, fossils, rocks and minerals, archaeological artifacts and an Egyptology collection
Bournemouth University Atrium GalleryBournemouthArtwebsite, works by both university students and contributing artists
Castletown D-Day CentreIsle of PortlandMilitaryHistory of Portland Harbour's role in the Normandy landings[1]
Charmouth Heritage Coast CentreCharmouthNatural historyFossils and rocks of the Jurassic Coast
Chettle HouseChettleHistoric houseinformation, 18th century Queen Anne house and gardens
Clouds HillWarehamHistoric houseOperated by the National Trust, former home of T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia")
Corfe Castle Town MuseumCorfe CastleLocalwebsite, local history, geology, marble industry
Dinosaur MuseumDorchesterNatural historyDinosaurs, full size models, fossils of the Jurassic Coast
Dinosaurland Fossil MuseumLyme RegisNatural historyLocal Jurassic marine fossils, dinosaurs, geology of the Jurassic Coast, shells, evolution
Dorset County MuseumDorchesterMultipleLocal history, natural history, art, archaeology, agriculture, author Thomas Hardy, fossil and dinosaurs
Dorset Teddy Bear MuseumDorchesterToyTeddy bears
The Etches CollectionKimmeridgeNatural historyFossils
Fiddleford ManorSturminster NewtonHistoric houseOperated by English Heritage, medieval small stone manor house
Forde AbbeyChardHistoric houseFormer Cistercian monastery, house and gardens
TheGallery at Arts University BournemouthBournemouthArtwebsite, contemporary art gallery
Gillingham MuseumGillinghamLocalwebsite, local history, trades, geology, industry
Gold Hill MuseumShaftesburyLocalwebsite, local history, culture, industry
Grove Prison MuseumIsle of PortlandPrisonHistory of HM Prison Portland[2]
Highcliffe CastleHighcliffeHistoric house19th century Romantic and Picturesque style castle, grounds laid out by Capability Brown
Keep Military MuseumDorchesterMilitaryHistory of the regiments of Dorset and Devon
Kingston LacyWimborne MinsterHistoric houseOperated by the National Trust, 17th-century house with fine art, Egyptian artifacts, lavish interiors, gardens
Langton Matravers MuseumLangton MatraversLocalwebsite, local history, geology, limestone industry
Lulworth CastleEast LulworthHistoric house17th century mock castle manor house
Lyme Regis Marine AquariumLyme RegisNatural historywebsite, local fish and marine life of the Jurassic coast, history of The Cobb harbour wall
Lyme Regis MuseumLyme RegisMultipleFossils, geology, Jane Austen, local history, maritime heritage, writers and artists, formerly known as the Philpot Museum
Mangerton MillBridportMillinformation, 3 story watermill
Mapperton HouseBeaminsterHistoric houseElizabethan manor house and gardens
Max GateDorchesterHistoric houseOperated by the National Trust, home of author Thomas Hardy
Museum of Design in PlasticsBournemouthArtwebsite, collection of the library of the Arts University Bournemouth, international, historical and contemporary design examples of plastic items and uses
Nothe FortWeymouthMilitary19th-century fort with important role in World War II, memorabilia, vehicles
Place MillChristchurchMillwebsite, restored Anglo-Saxon watermill, art gallery
Poole MuseumPooleLocalLocal history, ceramics and Poole Pottery, archaeology, maritime and social history, local trades and industries, costume and textiles; formerly known as the Waterfront Museum
Poole Old Lifeboat Museum and ShopPooleMaritimeFormer lifeboat station and historic lifeboat
Portland Bill LighthouseIsle of PortlandMaritimeLighthouse open for tours
Portland CastleWeymouthMilitaryOperated by English Heritage, 16th century armed castle fort
Portland MuseumIsle of PortlandLocalLocal history, geology, maritime heritage, archaeology
Priest's House MuseumWimborne MinsterHistoric houseRooms furnished in different periods, local history, archaeology
Purbeck Mineral and Mining MuseumCorfe CastleMiningLocated at the Norden railway station, history and equipment for ball clay mining
Red House Museum, DorsetChristchurchLocalinformation, information, local and social history, natural history, geology, archaeology, costumes
Royal Signals MuseumBlandford ForumMilitaryNational museum of army communications
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & MuseumBournemouthArtFine art and Japanese art in a Victorian mansion
Scaplens Court MuseumPooleHistorywebsite, medieval building used for education programs, special domestic life demonstrations in August
Shaftesbury Abbey MuseumShaftesburyReligiousArtifacts from the ruins of a 15th-century Benedictine nunnery
Sherborne CastleSherborneHistoric houseOperated by English Heritage, 16th-century Tudor mansion and gardens
Sherborne House ArtsBridportArtwebsite, art gallery of the Bridport Arts Centre
Sherborne MuseumSherborneLocalLocal history, trades, industry, household items
Sherborne Steam & Waterwheel CentreSherborneTechnologywebsite, restored 19th century waterwheel used to deliver town's water, formerly known as the Castleton Waterwheel Museum
Shire Hall DorsetDorchesterPrisonwebsite, also known as Old Crown Court and Cells, courtroom, cells and stocks restored to appear as during the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834
Stock GaylardSturminster NewtonHistoric housewebsite, small Georgian country house, gardens and estate
Sturminster Newton MillSturminster NewtonMillwebsite, working watermill
Sturminster Newton MuseumSturminster NewtonLocalwebsite, local history, culture
Sutton Poyntz Water Supply MuseumWeymouthHistorywebsite, history of water supplying, natural history of watersheds, operated by Wessex Water Services
Swanage MuseumSwanageLocalwebsite, local history, geology and history of the Jurassic Coast, stone industry, local development of early radar in the UK during World War II
Swanage RailwayCorfe CastleRailwayHeritage railway and museum located in the converted Goods Shed in Corfe Castle railway station
The Tank MuseumWoolMilitaryTanks and armoured vehicles
Terracotta Warriors MuseumDorchesterHistorywebsite, replicas of warriors of the Terracotta Army found in China in 1974
Thomas Hardy's CottageHigher BockhamptonHistoric houseOperated by the National Trust, birthplace of author Thomas Hardy
Tolpuddle Martyrs MuseumTolpuddleHistoryTrade union history of 19th-century English agricultural labourers who were convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers
Town Mill, Lyme RegisLyme RegisMillwebsite, restored working watermill, complex also houses art galleries, a café/restaurant, craft studios and workshops, a bakery, a mill shop and the Miller's garden
Tudor HouseWeymouthHistoric houseEarly 17th century period merchant's house, operated by the Weymouth Civic Society
Tutankhamun ExhibitionDorchesterHistoryRe-creation of the tomb of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun
Wareham Town MuseumWarehamLocalLocal history, T. E. Lawrence, archeology, local pottery
West Bay Discovery CentreWest BayLocalVisitor centre covering the history of West Bay, housed in a former Methodist chapel[3]
Weymouth MuseumWeymouthLocalPart of Brewers Quay, local history, culture, maritime history
White Mill, Sturminster MarshallSturminster MarshallMillwebsite, operated by the National Trust, part of the Kingston Lacy estate, restored watermill
Wolfeton HouseCharminsterHistoric houseEarly Tudor and Elizabethan manor house

Defunct museums

  • Discovery, interactive hands-on science exhibits, formerly part of Brewers Quay
  • Museum of Electricity, Christchurch, closed indefinitely in 2012[4]
  • Timewalk, formerly located in Brewers Quay, exhibits on 600 years of local history and the brewing heritage of the building. Closed in 2010.

See also

  • Category:Tourist attractions in Dorset


  1. "Portland dockside D-Day museum opens - BBC News". Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  2. "Grove Prison Museum". Portland History. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  3. "West Bay Discovery Centre - Bridport & West Bay". Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  4. "Spark of hope for Christchurch electricity museum". Daily Echo. March 13, 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
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