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.
Irises by Elizabeth Blackadder

Elizabeth Blackadder: From the Artist's Studio

  • 29 March — 12 June 2019 *on now

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder is one of our greatest artists: the first woman to be elected both to the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy, she was given the prestigious title of Her Majesty’s Painter and Limner in Scotland in 2001.

Such public accolades highlight her long and distinguished career but her art remains quietly personal. She has charted a very individual course throughout the second half of the 20th century and beyond, unswayed by fashion, a tireless devotion to her practice as an artist her guiding principle. This specially curated exhibition, drawn mainly from the artist’s studio, will show the breadth and variety of Blackadder’s work and aims to reveal and celebrate an exceptional career.

Image: Irises (detail), 1987, tapestry © Elizabeth Blackadder, The Fleming Collection

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.hampshireculture.org.uk/event/elizabeth-blackadder-artists-studio-0

I Grew Up 80s neon

I Grew Up 80s

  • 22 June — 14 September 2019

The fantastic new exhibition I Grew Up 80s at the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery will give an entire generation a chance to wallow in 80s nostalgia with over 200 iconic objects that defined the decade.

Following the success of his hit Star Wars-themed exhibition May The Toys Be With You, collector and cultural commentator Matt Fox has devoted himself to exploring a 1980s childhood through the iconic objects of an era in which so much changed.

Visitors will be able to travel through the cultural landscape of 1980s Britain, revisiting the vibrancy, quirkiness and innovation that symbolised the 80s. From Betamax to the Raleigh Burner BMX, the Rubik’s Cube™ to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the Thompson Twins to Transformers!

This carefully curated time capsule of treasures showcase the youthful exuberance of this much-loved time. A wide array of wonderfully preserved objects encompasses toys, home technology, sport, fashion, food, film, books, TV and much, much more.

Like Bill and Ted in their phone booth, or Marty McFly in his DeLorean, I Grew Up 80s will take you on a time-travelling adventure to revisit ten remarkable years. Get ready to exclaim: "I remember that!"

I Grew Up 80s tours to Gosport Gallery, 27 September - 31 December.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free, donations welcome

Website

https://www.hampshireculture.org.uk/event/i-grew-80s

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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