Worthing Museum is a great place! It’s part of the Worthing Theatres and Museum charity (WTM) and is housed in a rather beautiful Edwardian building in Chapel Road. Worthing itself has a rich and diverse heritage and WTM is a unique arts and heritage charity consisting of four theatres, a cinema, and the museum and gallery. The museum is set over two floors, and has permanent collections and temporary exhibitions which include something for all ranges of interests and passions. And entry is free.
Archaeology: for those with a fascination for our Sussex archaeology, Worthing Museum is a treasure trove with finds from Highdown, Blackpatch, Cissbury Ring, Chanctonbury Ring and including artefacts from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods right up to the 15th and 17th centuries. Some of the finds are simply stunning and range from jewellery and glassware to Medieval toothpicks, jugs, coins, and even human remains.
Fine art: the museum’s fine art collection consists of watercolours, oils, acrylic paintings, prints and drawings and has works from the main British art movements since 1800 (namely Romantic, Pre-Raphaelite and particularly the Modern British movements). There is a strong local influence as you might expect with many local scenes or artists with a Sussex connection.
Costume and fashion: the Worthing Costume collection is one of the leading resources for dress history in the UK and many of the items are absolutely gorgeous. Think stunning dresses, hats, magnificent shoes, gloves and children’s wear. The collection includes items from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries but also includes more contemporary items. The oldest piece of clothing is a Jacobean man’s jacket dated around 1610. Wow! Just wow! There is also a textile collection.
Geology and coins: with items from the Cretaceous period, 145 to 66 million years ago, to ancient marine life including ammonites, belemnites, lobsters and echinoids and Jurassic marine reptiles, mammoth tusks and teeth. There is also an impressive collection of coins from the Iron Age and Roman period (especially those found in the Worthing region).
Toys and dolls: the museum is also home to over a thousand dolls, from the late 18th century to the 1980s. There are also exquisitely furnished dolls houses as well as bears, board and card games, jigsaws and marionettes!
Decorative arts: there is a wonderfully quirky decorative arts collection with earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, pottery and glass with some of the items dating from 1600.
Social history: with lots of wonderful old photos, the social history section is a great record of Worthing’s long and eclectic past. There are journals, invitations, badges, and items to represent the town’s shepherding history, the suffragette movement and World War II.
Exhibitions and events
The museum hosts an ongoing schedule of walks, talks, events, and exhibitions and it is worth checking their website to see what’s on of interest. When I visited, there was a particularly compelling art exhibition, Invisible People Worthing, showcasing the work of people with learning disabilities.
Worthing Museum is a fantastic resource and is well laid out and just full of interesting stuff. You can find out more here: https://wtm.uk/museum/
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