Geology, archaeology and natural history collections were once on show here, in the magnificent centrepiece of the Victorian Hall
The museum building itself was built of Portland stone in 1883, designed and constructed by George Rackstrow Crickmay, a Weymouth architect. The cast-iron columns and arches and the other metalwork in the aisled Victorian Hall were cast in Frome by Edward Cockey & Sons inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851 and International Exhibition of 1862. In 1903, local businessman, magistrate and benefactor, Charles Hansford supported the installation of the mezzanine in the Victorian Hall and grand staircase.
The beautiful rose window pouring soft light down into the hall below on genuine Roman mosaic floors (one of the very few in Europe you can actually stand on). An extraordinary feat of vision and determination, each tiny tile was excavated from local Roman townhouses in the early 1900s, before being meticulously and painstakingly relaid here.
The Roman Mosaics
The Durngate Street mosaic
With its crested serpents and leaves was found in Dorchester and laid in the Museum in 1905.
Of the Durnovarian School, it is one of the few mosaics in Britain with its maker’s signature – a fruit and leaf motif.
The Olga Road mosaic
This mosaic has similarities with mosaics at Roman Cirencester. It was found in 1899 and presented to the Museum in 1900.