The Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery

Willis Museum
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Since 1984, the Willis Museum has been housed in this impressive early Victorian building that was once Basingstoke’s Town Hall.

It is named after George Willis, a local clockmaker, antiquarian and former Mayor of Basingstoke, who became the first honorary curator when the original museum was established in the Mechanics Institute in New Street in 1931.

The building you see today replaced the original Mote Hall (meeting place) where Jane Austen attended dances. This replacement Town Hall was designed by Lewis Wyatt and was open on the ground floor, serving as the town’s Corn Exchange and Market.

Centrally located at the Top of the Town, in the Willis Museum you will discover Basingstoke and Deane’s past, from the rich archaeological heritage beneath our feet right up to the modern day. Throughout the year, we also run a programme of touring exhibitions, as well as fun events, workshops and activities for all the family to enjoy.

Venue Type:

Museum

Opening hours

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Wednesday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Thursday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Sunday: Closed

Admission charges

Free entry.

Getting there

By car
from the north, take J6 of the M3, or the A33 south of Reading; from the south, take J7 of the M3. Follow signs for Town Centre and brown signs to the Top of the Town. Parking is available in several car parks or in Festival Place Shopping Centre.

By rail
the museum is within walking distance of Basingstoke station. Follow signs for Festival Place Shopping Centre, walk through Festival Place and out of the south exit into Wote Street. Walk up the hill and the museum is in the town’s historic Market Place.

Additional info

The museum has ramped access to the front door and automatic and power assisted doors to the Sainsbury Gallery and Café Willis. It has a stairlift to the first and second floors with some restrictions, please ask staff for clarification. Please contact us on 01256 465902 before making a special journey.

Travel back in time, and experience some of the major changes that have created the Basingstoke that we know today. Contrast the present with the past, the rich with the poor. Meet Pickaxe, a 19th century farm worker forced to scrape a living from the streets of Basingstoke as a scavenger. Walk into a 1960s sitting room and kitchen and transport yourself back to the days of teddy boys and twin tubs. Beneath our Feet: Discover Basingstoke and Deane's rich archaeological heritage including the unusual Iron Age burial found at Viables, Fred the Roman skeleton and reconstructions of nationally important Saxon buildings at Cowderys Down. Local History: Dig deeper into your town's past in the local studies room - easily accessible old photographs, maps, postcards and much more.

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Natural Sciences, Social History

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Wedding dress

I Do!

  • 25 April — 7 July 2018 *on now

As we celebrate this year of royal weddings, what better excuse than to delve into our collection and share our most exquisite wedding dresses with you.

From gowns and veils to bonnets and shoes, the extravagance of the 1770s to the elegance of 2018, this stunning exhibition tells the stories of the personal choices made by brides-to be as they prepare to say ‘I do’.

Whether it’s something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, I Do! shines a spotlight on wedding dress fashions over the past 250 years

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/event/i-do

Image: ©Alexis Javier Acosta Simón/IGPOTY

International Garden Photographer of the Year

  • 14 July — 29 September 2018

The exhibition will feature the very best botanical photography from across the world, celebrating the beauty and importance of plant life in its many diverse forms.

Eight main categories including The Beauty of Plants, Wildflower Landscapes, Beautiful Gardens and Breathing Spaces will be on display, plus winners from the Macro Art Photo Project.

Visitors can expect to see thought-provoking and challenging images which seek to strengthen bonds with plants and gardens, increase public understanding of the natural world and champion photography as a mode of conservation.

From endemic wild flowers on La Palma to the idyllic British garden, the exhibition will take visitors on an inspirational journey through sights both familiar and unknown.

Image: ©Alexis Javier Acosta Simón/IGPOTY

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/event/international-garden-photographer-year-exhibition

A Splash of Colour

A Splash of Colour

  • 11 August — 15 September 2018

Her work spans several genres including; landscape and floral art, seascapes, wildlife, Christian themes and contemporary abstract paintings. Several items in this exhibition have recently been on display in Chichester, Tadley, London and Worcester Cathedral.

Karen has spent the majority of her life as a resident of the Basingstoke area and is delighted to announce that she will be exhibiting a few new paintings of local landmarks for the first time during this exhibition.

Suitable for all ages.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/event/%E2%80%98-splash-colour%E2%80%99

Getting there

By car
from the north, take J6 of the M3, or the A33 south of Reading; from the south, take J7 of the M3. Follow signs for Town Centre and brown signs to the Top of the Town. Parking is available in several car parks or in Festival Place Shopping Centre.

By rail
the museum is within walking distance of Basingstoke station. Follow signs for Festival Place Shopping Centre, walk through Festival Place and out of the south exit into Wote Street. Walk up the hill and the museum is in the town’s historic Market Place.

The Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery
Market Place
Basingstoke
Hampshire
RG21 7QD
England

Website

https://www.hampshireculture.org.uk/willis-museum-and-sainsbury-gallery

E-mail

General Enquiries

enquiries@hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk

Telephone

01256 465902

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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