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

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

The Victorian Hall will be hosting a private event on Friday 10th June 2022, all day and Saturday 11th June 2022, 12 noon to 5:00 pm, and therefore will be closed to visitors.

  • 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

Family Activity

31 May 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Half Term ArtyFacts

Model theatre-making based on Hardy's novels and the model by Thomas Tilley for the Hardy Players in the Hardy's Dorset Gallery.

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Workshop

17 June - 11 July 2022, 10:00am - 1:00pm

Hardy’s Wessex: Drawing on the ancient past

This six-week course led by artist Helen Garrett will take you on a creative journey through Thomas Hardy’s work, inspirations and Dorset Museum’s collections.

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Workshop

18 June 2022, 11:30am - 4:00pm

Dorset Button making day

Join Dorset button maker and artist Anna McDowell to explore the history of Dorset button-making and take part in a workshop to make your own buttons.

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Hardy's Wessex

23 June 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

Hardy’s Wessex

Join exhibition curator Harriet Still to hear more about the themes and stories of our landmark Hardy's Wessex exhibition.

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Family Activity

3 July 2022, 10:30am – 12:30pm

Sunday ArtyFacts

Create your own Victorian silhouette and Victorian style frame. Make your own drawn or painted Victorian portrait based inspired by the Hardy's Wessex exhibition, the Hardy's Gallery and portraits in the Artists' Dorset Gallery.

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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.

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Exhibition

14 March to 12 June 2022

A Virus a Day Textile Art by Antje Rook

Antje Rook created the A Virus a Day quilt created in response to Covid-19. The Portland artist embroidered one virus for every day of the first 2020 UK lockdown while she was isolating with her partner.

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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

Family Activity

2 June 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Half Term ArtyFacts

Create your own wooden Victorian decoupage box using Victorian images and decoration in association with the Thomas Hardy exhibition and the Hardy's Dorset gallery. Younger children will be able to create simple Victorian collages.

Find out more