Hastings is awash with wonderful museums, so whether you want to entertain the children or escape for a bit of culture and history, head out to Hastings and discover the town’s rich and eclectic past.
Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
This is a fantastic museum with lots on for you and the children if you’re trying to fill the last few weeks of the holidays. Current exhibitions include a Natural Science exhibition, a Write Around the Kids exhibition (for the parents), and the very vibrant Jason and his Argonauts exhibition, all of which are free. They also host various paid events like their Lego Labs and are part of the Follow that Duck trail which involves dozens of brightly coloured 5-foot ducks dotted around the Hastings area and is raising money for a local hospice.
For more information visit: https://www.hmag.org.uk/
The Fishermen’s Museum
This little museum won’t take you long to explore but is both fun and interesting. You’ll find it in Rock-a-Nore in the former Fishermen’s Church of St Nicholas (a Grade II listed building). The Museum is managed by the Old Hastings Preservation Society and as the name suggests, they have photos, fishing family history, and fishing artefacts and you can climb on board an old fishing lugger. They also host various events including walks and talks.
For more information visit: https://www.ohps.org.uk/
Not far from the Fishermen’s Museum, you’ll find the distinctive, black outline of the Hastings Contemporary. Again, as the name suggests, this art gallery is all about modern, contemporary art and holds exhibitions by local, international, and emerging artists. Up to four children go free but it’s only open from Wednesday to Sunday.
For more information visit: https://www.hastingscontemporary.org/
This has to be my favourite Hastings museum and you’ll find it up on West Hill, not far from Hastings castle. Set in St Clements Caves, a labyrinth of underground caves and tunnels, this is an interactive museum where you learn about the smugglers as well as the fascinating story of the caves. You’ll find the Excise men and the smugglers in dark corners, there’s a hologram and a prisoner who rattles his chains at you. funny, evocative and informative all around!
For more information visit: https://www.smugglersadventure.co.uk/
True Crime Museum
Not far from Hastings’ Pier (on the opposite side of the road) is this gruesome museum all about true crimes. Some of the crimes are local, including the Acid Bath murders of Crawley (the museum actually has the six carboys which contained the acid) but there are also crimes from around the world. Exhibits include a genuine deathbed for execution by lethal injection, an electric chair, gangster crimes, and a whole lot more. It’s properly gruesome stuff!
For more information please visit: https://www.truecrimemuseum.co.uk
The Shipwreck Museum
Back in Rock-a-Nore road, near the aquarium is the Shipwreck Museum. Once again, as the name suggests the museum has all sorts of artefacts from many ships wrecked in the English Channel from the Goodwin Sands in Kent to Pevensey Bay in East Sussex including the Amsterdam, a Dutch East Indiaman of 1749 and the Anne of 1690 also the Charles II warship. They also do tours, for example to the wreck of the Amsterdam on the rare occasions when it emerges briefly from the sea and sand. And apart from shipwrecks, they have an exhibition of fossils found in the local area. Admission is free!
For more information visit: https://shipwreckmuseum.co.uk/
Hastings History House
In between the High Street and The Bourne, Hastings History House is the headquarters of the Old Hastings Preservation Society (OHPS) and is a local history exhibition and resource centre. Here you’ll find lots of old photos displayed in themes to illustrate Hastings through the years. They also have books for sale and leaflets on walks. One for the historians.
You can find out more here: For more information visit: https://www.ohps.org.uk/
Flower Makers’ Museum
The last Hastings museum on our list is something a little different and has been described as more of a workshop than a museum and completely unique. Owned by the Shirley Leaf & Petal Company, you’ll find it in the basement of a 14th Century building on the High Street. They don’t seem to have a website but they do have over 100 years of history of the world of making artificial flowers, a lot of passion and an extraordinary collection of tools, machines and fabrics. Entry is £1.