Dorset County Museum

a photo of the exterior of Dorset County Museum
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The Dorset County Museum is where the story of Dorset's rich landscape unfolds in a range of fascinating displays. The Museum was founded in 1846 to help protect and record the county's unique historical and natural environment.

Today visitors to the Museum can find out about local writers, history, archaeology, geology and the natural sciences in one of the Museum's many galleries. There are also video displays, activity carts for children and an audio-guide to take you round the exhibits.

The Museum is housed in a beautiful, gothic-style building, which dates from 1884. Its diverse collections include Roman mosaics, original Thomas Hardy manuscripts and fossilised dinosaur footprints. And behind the scenes there is a great deal more...

The Museum is an ideal place to come if you are visiting Dorset, and a great place for local people to find out more about where they live.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Tue-Sat 1000-1600 1 Nov to 31 March, Mon-Sat 1000 - 1700 1 April to 31 October

Admission charges

Adults £6.50
Concessions £5.00
Up to two children admitted free with every adult

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Natural Sciences, Costume and Textiles, Fine Art, Music, Coins and Medals, Personalities, Social History

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

A Poetic Eye: John Craxton on Cranborne Chase and Crete

  • 28 March — 19 September 2015 *on now

John Craxton (1922-2009) was one of the most interesting and individual British artists of the 20th century. His life story, starting with wanderings on Cranborne Chase, was as colourful as his later pictures of the light, life and landscapes of Greece.

This exhibition at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester charts Craxton’s journey from Cranborne to Crete, from early paintings of dark and menaced war-time landscapes to joyful scenes painted under bright Cretan skies.

“John Craxton was one of the art world’s best-kept secrets, but his reputation has surged since his death,” says exhibition curator Ian Collins.”The retrospective exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge earlier this year attracted a huge number of visitors and we are hoping for a similar reaction here.”

“This exhibition brings together many paintings and drawings never previously exhibited,” says Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum. “It covers an extraordinary range of work from his early life in rural Dorset to Greece where he lived after the Second World War.”

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Dorset County Museum
High West Street




01305 262735


01305 257180

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.