Welcome to Dorset Museum, a place to connect with 250 million years of Dorset’s history.
We invite people from everywhere to discover and enjoy the richness of our county’s natural, historical and cultural heritage through our world-class collections.
We believe everybody will find something here to interest, fascinate or inspire them. We hope it will ignite you with an appreciation of our county and a desire to explore it.
About the Museum
Dorset Museum is cared for by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, an educational charity and custodians of four million objects in the Museum’s collection.
Daily: 9.00am - 4.30pm
Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
Pre-booking essential for all visits.
Dorset MuseumHigh West Street
Dorchester DT1 1XA
Because our phone lines can be very busy, we strongly recommend contacting us using the links to the relevant enquiry.Bookings Membership Shop Collections
We’re Good To Go
We have gained the Visit England ‘We’re Good To Go’ kitemark confirming we’re following national COVID 19 guidelines for managing visits to our site.
Plan your visit
28 May – 5 September 2021
Alchemy: Artefacts Reimagined
Wessex Museums invited artist Ann-Marie James to explore the collections of our four partner museums, then choose an object from each to inspire a series…Find out more
Wildlife in the Red
Online Exhibition: Wildlife in the Red The Wessex Museums partnership is pitching in against biodiversity loss. ‘Wildlife in the Red’ is the title of their…Find out more
Oct 2021 - January 2022
Elmer and Friends
Elmer and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee An exhibition from Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books. For the first time ever,…Find out more
28 May – 24 October 2021
A Museum in the Making
Dorchester artist Peter Runeckles was given unique access to the Museum construction site between 2018 and 2020. Working alongside the team from Acheson Construction, a…Find out more
15 July 2021
Open evening for schools
It gives us great pleasure to invite school staff to our hugely transformed Dorset Museum on Thursday 15th July between 17.30 – 19.30 for FREE.Find out more
Items From Our Collection
c.140 million years old (Purbeck Group)
The Swanage crocodile (Goniopholis kiplingi, holotype)
This skull is from a substantial crocodile that dwelled in Purbeck’s Early Cretaceous lagoons. There it waited, motionless, to ambush unsuspecting animals. Fish, turtles and even baby dinosaurs were potential dinners. Peveril Point, southeast Dorset
Katharine Hardy’s red dress
Hardy’s younger sister Katharine (1856-1940) was a schoolteacher and had this dress made in Dorchester. With its luxurious red silk and bustle, it is reminiscent of the dress Tess wears in Tess of the d’Urbervilles when she runs away with her husband Angel Clare after murdering Alec d’Urberville.
The Bond family raised-work box
Raised, or stump, work was a popular 17th-century embroidery technique. Its padded decoration often featured biblical motifs, plants and flowers, but the figures on this intricately crafted box are thought to depict Charles II (1630-1685) and his wife Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705). The box belonged to the Bond family at Creech Grange.
Bird skin collected by Alfred Russel Wallace
On Wallace’s trips to the Malaysian islands he collected over 8,000 bird specimens. Studying them helped him develop his theories on evolution
The Dorset Ooser
Every year Morris dancers use this replica Ooser for their May Day celebrations on a hillside near Cerne Abbas. The monstrous mask has its origins in ancient folklore. This terrifying creature stalked through Dorset towns and villages looking for food and drink from local people and frightening children.
On loan from John Byfleet
Moule earth closet
Dorchester vicar Henry Moule (1801-1880) worked for better sanitation in the squalid slums of his Fordington parish. He invented this simple but effective composting toilet – a ‘portable commode for everyone’.
Cyril Day’s butterfly collection
These are just a small part of Cyril Douglas Day’s (1885-1968) collection of 2,652 insects, representing the wide diversity of species commonly found in Dorset in the mid-20th century.
The Wareham Sword
Made of silver, bronze and horn, this sword was found in the River Frome. The name engraved on it begins ‘Aethel…’, a name only associated with the aristocracy.
June 10, 2021
Open evening for schools
It gives us great pleasure to invite school staff to our hugely transformed Dorset Museum on Thursday 15th July between 17.30 – 19.30 for FREE.Read more
May 28, 2021
Dorset Museum is OPEN!
The long-awaited opening of the Dorset Museum is here, after the £16.4 million redevelopment that started in October 2018. We are open!! Dr Jon Murden…Read more
January 28, 2021
Roman Mosaic Saved for the Nation!
A Roman mosaic of international importance has been saved for the Nation! Dorset Museum has been successful in its appeal to raise £150,000 to save…Read more
October 12, 2020
Dorset Museum is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced…Read more
October 6, 2020
Wildlife in the Red
The Wessex Museums partnership is pitching in against biodiversity loss. ‘Wildlife in the Red’ is the title of their virtual exhibition. The strapline is ‘Once…Read more
October 1, 2020
A Museum in the Making
This month we celebrated 175 years when the concept of building a museum to house all of the treasures of Dorset’s rich history was conceived…Read more
August 12, 2020
‘Topping Out’ Milestone
Lord Fellowes of West Stafford joins the staff of Dorset Museum as they celebrate the completion of structural work with Dorset-based construction company Acheson. Despite…Read more
April 30, 2020
The Bond Family, 1848
Meet the team at IFACS Bristol, who are currently conserving this very precious picture of The Bond Family for the display in the new Museum.Read more
April 29, 2020
A day in the life of….Bethany Palumbo
Bethany Palumbo is a Conservator specialising in the preservation of Natural History Collections. Over the next few months, she will be conserving several specimens for…Read more
Become A Member Today!
Become a member of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society today and get a deeper insight into 250 million years of Dorset’s history, while you help protect its rich heritage for future generations.
The Victorian Hall
Are you looking for an iconic venue for your event? With its Gothic facade, spectacular Victorian Hall and stunning new galleries, Dorset Museum is a memorable choice.
Donations Make The Difference
Every grant and donation helps us to do more for more people. Find out how you could make a difference.