Portsmouth's museums have a number of collections on permanent display, alongside the frequent exhibitions which run for a finite time. Find out more about the collections below, which have been separated out according to location.
A Study in Sherlock
Portsmouth is a city rich in literary history, and the fact that Sherlock Holmes first sprang onto the page here is among our biggest claims to fame. Not only that, Portsmouth also has the largest collection of its kind on earth of memorabilia relating to the great author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Some of the collection is on display at A Study in Sherlock, which features items relating to the iconic Consulting Detective from across the decades, as well as a few items which belonged to Doyle himself.
To celebrate the author and his time in Portsmouth, a number of events run throughout the year, check our events pages for all the up-to-date details.
You Don't Know Sherlock Holmes, Yet
New for 2018: You Don't Know Sherlock Holmes, Yet... With much more of the Doyle archive now processed and available to explore, the entire ground floor of Portsmouth Museum has been given over to the Lancelyn Green bequest. See more about Holmes and the man who created him with this world-leading collection.
Rediscovery: The decorative arts
200 years of design history in ceramics, furniture, textiles, decorative tiles, embroidery, illustrations and glass from the decorative arts collection. The artists, designers and craft makers featured include: Vanessa Bell, Dora Carrington, William De Morgan, Christopher Dresser, Duncan Grant, Bernard Leech, AWN Pugin and Lucie Rie. Also kindly on loan from the Crafts Council, a ceramic piece by Grayson Perry, who studied at Portsmouth Art College.
Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall Pot, Grayson Perry, 1996. Crafts Council Collection: P442. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography.
The Picture Gallery
A new display of prints, drawings and sculpture from the permanent collection, celebrating 250 years of the Royal Academy. There are over 90 works on display including work by: David Hockney, Gertrude Hermes, Eduardo Paolozzi, Lynn Chadwick, Henry Moore, Edward Bawden and many more. There will be a full programme of events to accompany the exhibition, details will be announced soon and will be listed on the Events page and on the museum Facebook page. On display until 24 February 2019.
Lightbulbs, mono-print 1991. Dims 31.5cm (h) x 43.5cm (w).©Lisa Milroy 2018
The Story of Portsmouth
How has Portsmouth changed over the generations? You can find out at The Story of Portsmouth, which recreates city life and culture from centuries gone by. You can see a 17th century bedchamber, a typical kitchen of an 1870s Dockyard worker, a Victorian parlour and much more besides. Then, follow the exhibition through to Portsmouth at Play, to see the ways people enjoyed themselves in years gone by.
Lone Sailor 1968, oil on canvas by Laurence Bagley. Reproduced with kind permission of Laurence Bagley's family. www.laurencebagley.com
This painting is currently on display to mark the 50th Anniversary of Sir Alec Rose and his Lively Lady's solo expedition round the world.
Football in the City
With Portsmouth FC having been established for more than 120 years, its understandable the club has some stories to tell. Learn all about the history of this much-loved team, and see personal artefacts relating to some of the players who have pulled on the hallowed blue jersey. The gallery is a must for Pompey supporters or anyone who loves the beautiful game.
Game Over: The future of the past
Want to see first-hand how games consoles have evolved over the years? At Game Over: The future of the past, you can do exactly this. The gallery is full of consoles from years gone by, as well as some of the more contemporary devices. Visitors don't just get the chance to see what these consoles look like from the outside, though, but can take a step back in time to actually play some of the biggest games of yesteryear.
The D-Day Story
The story of D-Day doesn't start on 6 June 1944. Much planning and preparation went into the operation, which was to play a deciding role in how successful it would turn out to be. Start your tour of The D-Day Story at the Preparation galleries, which show the plans that were developed, the people who had a say in the matter, and just what would happen in the lead-up to that fateful departure.
D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
A spectacular audio-visual display puts visitors right in the centre of D-Day, to get a first-hand account of just what the troops were going through. Get an unrivalled insight into just what the soldiers were doing and, most crucially, what they were thinking. This forms the heart of the new approach to the D-Day Story, where the personal tales behind this epic adventure come to life, so you can truly see the human impact of the battle.
Legacy and Overlord Embroidery
Just as the story of D-Day doesn't start on 6 June, it also doesn't finish then, either. The Legacy displays remember those who took part, and they sacrifices they made. At the centre of these displays is the breathtaking Overlord Embroidery - an 83-metre work that tells the story of D-Day across 34 hand-stitched panels. The embroidery was based on illustrations that today hang in the US Pentagon.
Cumberland House Natural History Museum
The A-Z of Natural History
Portsmouth Museum service has over 114,000 natural science specimens in its collection - some of which feature in this fascinating A-Z. These include everything from tiny insects to fossils that date back millions of years. These specimens provide a valuable resource for understanding the natural world, providing useful information about the flora and fauna in the city at any particular time. Studying these specimens can help scientists identify changes, analyse the reasons for them and predict future trends.
The importance of bees to our ecosystem is widely known - but what about the creatures themselves? Take this chance to see a fully operational beehive, which is home to some 9,000 European Honey Bees. Here they live in a colony, produce honeycombs and raise their young. A short tunnel connects the hive to the outside world, where bees can fly to the museum garden's many flowers.
The Butterfly House
The state-of-the-art Butterfly House showcases some of the museum's most beautiful inhabitants. Inside are neo-tropical butterflies of many shapes and sizes, as well as trees, plants and flowers to help them create a perfect home. Inside is also a puparium, where pupae can be protected whilst they grow and transform into adult butterflies. Please note, butterflies will only be on the wing during warmer months, typically from May to September.
Standing proud at the edge of the Solent is Southsea Castle, a fortification built by and for the infamous King Henry VIII. The many-wived monarch had a great interest in fortification design, to ensure they fully protected everyone inside. This is the reason for Southsea Castle's rather out-of-the-ordinary shape. It was from within these walls that Henry VIII watched his beloved flagship, the Mary Rose, sink during battle with the French. Today, the castle offers spectacular 360-degree views across the Solent and the cityscape of Portsmouth. It also contains historical artefacts related to the time of Henry VIII, as well as the fascinating story behind the castle and its many iterations over the centuries.
Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum
Portsmouth's literary connections don't start and end with Sherlock Holmes, of course. Arguably the Victorian era's most popular author, Charles Dickens was born right here. The modest terraced house where he first lived is now a museum dedicated exclusively to the author. It has been painstakingly redecorated in the Regency style that was popular at the time, and contains a number of Dickens' own personal artefacts. With the Dickens Fellowship organising frequent events, and an annual celebration each year to celebrate the author's birth, there are a whole host of events you can enjoy throughout the year. Be sure to check the events pages or head to visitportsmouth.co.uk for all the details.