Whitstable Museum and Gallery
|Location||5A Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1DB, United Kingdom|
|Type||heritage centre; seafaring traditions museum|
|Collection size||Diving, oyster trade, shipbuilding trade, Peter Cushing|
|Public transit access||
Rail: Whitstable railway station|
Buses: National Express; Stagecoach
Whitstable Museum and Gallery is a heritage centre in Whitstable, Kent, and is notable for its displays showing the history of the local oyster trade started by the Romans and of historical diving equipment. It is open on Thursdays to Sundays in summer, 11:00am to 4:30pm. Admission is free for locals and £3:00 for visitors, with access for the disabled.
The present museum was established in 1985. The museum received the Nautiek Award, for services to diving history, in 2001; the first time the award had been given to a UK establishment. A recent Arts Council grant has enabled the museum to be repainted, with new lighting and a general facelift.
Entrance and building
The building is like the Tardis in that the tiny doorway opens up into a large hall of displays. In 1881, the Ancient Order of Foresters bought the building, and inscribed "Foresters' Hall" over the door.
The museum has collections and displays on themes of the natural world, local oyster trade, early diving and the actor, Peter Cushing, who lived locally, as well as displays on the 1953 floods, shipwrecks and maritime archaeology. The collections are held under the following headings: social history, science and technology, maritime, land transport, fine art, decorative and applied art, archives and archaeology.
The museum's largest object is Whitstable's first horse-drawn fire pump, which was manned by twenty-six volunteers. In 1867, the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society had donated it to the town. The diving display shows standard diving dress with Siebe Gorman helmet and the traditional red bonnet to protect the head against the helmet (see image below). The museum also contains relics from the East Indiaman Hindostan, which wrecked at Margate in January 1803.
- Museum entrance
- Display hall, looking towards entrance
- Display hall, looking from entrance
- 1867 fire pump
- Courtyard garden
- Diving display
The collection includes: ship paintings on the theme of international and local trading links; town, shore and coastal views; the work of local artists; and artworks borrowed from an international network of galleries.
There are about six exhibitions per year: some local, some which have toured nationally, and some with associated public events. In 2001, there was a special exhibition about art and water. In March 2002, there was an exhibition in which visitors could handle historic diving equipment and watch films about diving. There was a 2009−2010 exhibition on the last oyster yawl, Favourite, and a Girl Guides exhibition in 2010. The museum takes part in the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival by hosting interactive exhibitions. In September 2009, the museum had a World War II frontline exhibition.
Workshops are provided for schools and colleges, and students can study with practising artists. Adult courses, and a children's "Little Oysters Story Time" are held in addition. In 2015, the museum hosted the Whitstable Museum of Fun with workshops to make models of Daleks, the 1830 Invicta locomotive and oyster grotters.
- Information from museum spokesperson
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- "What's On". Whitstable Oyster Festival. 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
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- Eyb, Lynette (8 February 2010). "Canterbury's Roman Museum could fall victim to the credit crunch". The Independent. Independent News and Media Limited. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- Finch, Graham (2008–2010). "Agenda: Executive Thursday, 21st January, 2010 6.30 pm". Canterbury City Council Online. Canterbury: Canterbury City Council. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
- Finch, Graham (19 February 2010). "Agenda Council Thursday, 18th February, 2010 7.00 pm". Canterbury City Council Online. CCC. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011.
- "Canterbury Museums & Hall". City of Canterbury budget 2010−2011. April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
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