Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Hardy's Wessex

 

The largest collection of Thomas Hardy objects ever displayed at one time

A major exhibition across four venues – Dorset Museum (Dorchester), Poole Museum, The Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum (Devizes)

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

  • Four exhibitions, each exploring a different Hardy theme
  • A treasure trove of objects that give personal insights into Thomas Hardy’s life
  • Many of the objects have never been on public display before
  • Each exhibition has a star object on loan from a national museum

 

Hardy’s Wessex at Dorset Museum

The exhibition at each venue will be different – in Dorset Museum, it explores Hardy’s views on social tensions and animal welfare. Famous as a novelist, poet and social commentator, Hardy never lost touch with his experience of the working-class lives and poverty of rural Dorset.  Paintings, writing, costume and drawings will bring his writing and personality to life. The painting The Village Choir by Thomas Webster (loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum), for example, provides a snapshot of the rural musicians Hardy grew up with and wrote about in his novels.

Hardy had family pets and designed and carved his dog, Wessex’s, tombstone himself. He was also deeply concerned about the welfare of animals and became friends with early animal rights activists. He wrote to the newspapers to protest against performing animals, wrote poems criticising blood sports, and published novels about the link between people and animals.

  • Opening hours:

    Daily: 9.00am - 4.30pm
    Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
    Bank Holidays: 10.00am - 4.00pm

  • Admissions:

    Annual Pass or Day Entry available

    Book now
  • Dorset Museum

    High West Street
    Dorchester DT1 1XA

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Dorset Museum is part of the NPO (National Partnership Organisation) with Wessex Museums.

Wessex Museums is a charity that exists to build the resilience of partner museums and make them relevant to diverse audiences.

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This exhibition is supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.

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Rural Wessex

Wessex Words

Take part in our Wessex Words reading challenge this summer, inspired by our Hardy’s Wessex exhibition.

Workshop

17 September 2022, 10:00am - 4:00pm

Robin Mackenzie Wood Engraving Workshop

This one-day workshop is perfect for beginners looking to learn a new technique, or for those who have done a little engraving and wish to progress their technique further.

Find out more

Storytelling

28 October 2022, 10:30am - 11:30am

Fireside tales from Wessex: Story-telling with Tim Laycock

Participatory folk stories and songs for all the family.

Find out more

Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

Find out more

Community Exhibition

20 June – 16 September 2022

Plastics are not Fantastic

In this exhibition students from Weymouth College express their thoughts about the environment through posters, pledges and artwork.

Find out more

Tours

16 August 2022, 10:00am - 11:00am

Dorset Museum Highlights Tour

Explore 250 million years of Dorset’s history in this volunteer-led highlights tour of Dorset Museum. Discover Roman mosaics, fossils from the Jurassic Coast, Thomas Hardy manuscripts and the sculptures of Elisabeth Frink – and plenty more along the way.

Find out more

Family Activity

16 August 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Summer ArtyFacts

Inspired by Dorset Museum’s collection and Special Exhibitions, our volunteer-led craft activities are fun and creative. 

Find out more

Family Activity

18 August 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Summer ArtyFacts

Inspired by Dorset Museum’s collection and Special Exhibitions, our volunteer-led craft activities are fun and creative. 

Find out more

Tours

23 August 2022, 10:00am - 11:00am

Dorset Museum Highlights Tour

Explore 250 million years of Dorset’s history in this volunteer-led highlights tour of Dorset Museum. Discover Roman mosaics, fossils from the Jurassic Coast, Thomas Hardy manuscripts and the sculptures of Elisabeth Frink – and plenty more along the way.

Find out more

Family Activity

23 August 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Summer ArtyFacts

Victorian cameo silhouettes and gilt frames. Create your own Victorian silhouette and Victorian-style frame, inspired by the Thomas Hardy exhibition, the Hardy gallery and portraits in the Dorset Artists gallery.

Find out more