The Sherborne Museum is centrally located in Church Lane that runs from the Conduit in the market place to the Abbey. Founded in 1968 by members of Sherborne Historical Society, the Museum occupies what used to be the gatehouse and almonry associated with the former Benedictine monastery. It is now a Grade II listed building. From the outset, it aimed to preserve local heritage for the people of Sherborne and represents the town’s geological, historical, social and industrial development from prehistory to recent times, as well as its natural history. The museum is fully accredited and entirely run by volunteers.
Highlights include a unique medieval wall painting discovered in Long Street, fossils from the Inferior Oolite, a touch-screen version of the exquisite Sherborne Missal (one of the finest examples of International High Gothic illuminated manuscripts), tools from forgotten crafts, silk and gloving displays, two hundred watercolours of local flora by the pioneering Edwardian artist Diana Ruth Wilson, a famous dolls’ house and an Oral History booth where you can listen to voices from the past relating everyday lives. The Museum also displays temporary exhibitions created from extensive reserve collections so there is always something new to see, in addition to well-loved favourites. Local schools are often involved in setting up these displays, such as the Olympic and Jubilee exhibits of 2012.
There is a vast photographic archive which, combined with postcards and an art collection, form one of the largest private collections of images of a small town anywhere in the country. One of the latest projects is to digitalise this collection and make it accessible to the public by means of a touch-screen mounted on a podium; it will be possible to take orders to reproduce any image for a modest fee. Another recent project is the creation of a Sensory Trail, intended to enhance the experience of any visitor. The Museum is grateful for the help received from students of the Gryphon School who helped create handling trays of local geological specimens and who came up with such excellent ideas as the “tactile textile pillow” and the “olfactory cookbook” where you can smell recipes from the Iron Age to the 17th century by means of special sachets of herbs and spices secured to its pages.
For those visitors unable to take the stairs there is a virtual tour of the upstairs galleries on DVD.
School visits are actively encouraged and in October 2012 the Museum was awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge whereby teachers can be guaranteed a safe and enriching educational experience for their pupils, with knowledgeable stewards on hand for guidance if necessary. The Museum has also signed up to the “Kids in Museums” manifesto pledging to create child-friendly exhibits and text and to listen to children’s suggestions about what they would like to see in the Museum. There is a range of handling boxes which can be loaned to schools for up to half a term and work-experience opportunities are available for older students.
Admission is free. Opening times are from the first Tuesday before Easter to a few days before Christmas Tues-Sat 10.30 – 4.30. During the winter the Museum opens on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 10.30-12.30. The museum is also open on every 4th Sunday of the month from 10.30am to 1 pm. It is closed throughout January.
Forthcoming events (all free):
Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th May 11 am-3pm : Live Thatching Weekend at Sherborne Museum. Ben Collyns, master thatcher will be constructing a thatched roof inside one of the museum galleries and will be available to answer any questions about his work. The thatch will be left as an installation for the public to see alongside the museum’s display of thatching tools until August.
Monday 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th August: Messy Museum Mondays: Sherborne Museum will be open from 10.30am – 1pm for a variety of messy activities and games for children inspired by our fascinating collections.
Saturday 17th September 11am-3pm: Cider Saturday at the Museum. Ben Weller and friends from Twisted Cider in Longburton will bring along heritage apples and samples of apple juice and local cider.
For further details see the Museum website www.sherbornemuseum.co.uk or contact the Tourist Information Office.
Telephone: +44 (0)1935 812 252
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