Interesting Historic Collections
There has been a museum and art gallery in Tunbridge Wells since 1885 when Dr George Abbott arranged some displays in the lobby of the Literacy and Scientific Art Society at Pantiles. A natural history museum had stood on the site since the 1830s but it was only after Dr Abbotts display that we see anything like what we have today.
To some museums are viewed upon as something rather dated,excuse the pun, and lacking in excitement but you may actually surprise yourself; you also have nothing to lose as entrance is free.
The museum moved to its current home back in 1954 and is purpose built to cater for the large number of collections that the museum now houses. The museum is free to visit and is open from 9:30am until 5:00pm Monday – Saturday and 10:00am until 4:00pm on Sundays.
Some of the collections that are on offer include:
1. Dolls, Toys and Games
This collection houses a wide variety of dolls houses, toy soldiers and board games amongst other items dating back more than 200 years.
2. Costumes and Textiles
The museum has over 7,500 items of clothing and accessories dating back to from the 1700s until the present day available but only a small selection on show. Should you wish to see more of the collection it is advisable to make an appointment.
3. Tunbridge Ware
The museum houses the largest collection of Tunbridge Ware anywhere in the World. Tunbridge Ware is marquetry wood ware that was made from the late 1600s until the 1920’s in Tunbridge Wells.
4. Local History
As the name suggests, this is a collection of local history objects.
5. Social History
This is a collection of local, socially relevant objects.
The museum has a varied selection of archaeological artifacts, most of which have been found locally.
7. Coins, tokens and paper money
The museum has a selection of coins, tokens and paper money available for viewing.
8. Natural History
This collection houses over 28,000 natural specimens including fossils, insects, birds and mammals. The star attraction is a dinosaur footprint.
9. The Ashton Bequest
This is a collection of 31 fine, Victorian oil paintings depicting the era and local countryside. They were donated to the museum in the 1950s.
10. Fine Art
The museum has a small collection of fine art on displayed but more examples can be seen if prior appointments are made.
Address: Civic Centre, Mount Pleasant Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1JN, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 1892 554171
Open: 930am until 5pm (Sundays 10am until 4pm)