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Portsmouth City Council's Museum Service is 125 years old on 21 January 2020.

On 21 January 1895 Portsmouth town council opened its very first museum - housed in the old Town Hall in the High Street, Old Portsmouth which stood next to what is now The Dolphin public house. 

In September 1904 the council purchased Charles Dickens Birthplace in Commercial Road and in 1931 Cumberland House was turned into a natural history museum with an art gallery.

During the Second World War the museum building in Old Portsmouth was bombed and a large part of the collection was lost: Cumberland House became the main museum until new premises could be found.

The 1960s and 1970s were a time of growth for the museums service - Southsea castle was purchased in 1960 and in 1972 a new city museum opened in the striking building on Museum Road, part of the former Clarence Barracks.


Eastney Beam Engine House was also opened to the public as an industrial museum in 1972.

The latest addition to the city's museums was The D-Day museum which was created to tell the story of the epic D-Day landings and to house the stunning Overlord Embroidery.  The building was designed by the council's chief architect Ken Norrish and opened in 1984 by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. It's recently undergone a £5million Heritage Lottery grant funded transformation and re-opened as The D-Day Story ahead of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Portsmouth Museums' service presents the city's heritage and provides opportunities for people to enjoy and learn from its objects and art.  Across the city there's a wide range of attractions to preserve and show the story of the city and its people.

Cllr Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Development at Portsmouth City Council said: "The museum service has maintained and displayed the city's heritage and history for 125 years.  From its beginnings in Old Portsmouth to the range and versatility of the sites and exhibitions we have to offer today; it's something to celebrate and look after for future generations to enjoy."