“Portsmouth City Museum” By Pete Mann

Portsmouth is a city rich in history and a recent social activity took a group of students from ILC Portsmouth on a visit to the City Museum, which is located close to both the city centre and Southsea seafront.  

Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery is a great place to visit. It is free of charge and has a variety of sections and exhibitions that delve into Portsmouth’s wide and varied history.

The No Place Like Pompey section shows you what is unique about the UK’s only island city. Portsmouth at Play, including Sunny Portsmouth, celebrates the many different ways in which local people have spent their free time over the years, including the local cinemas (many of which no longer exist) and seafront entertainment through the ages.

The Museum also features a Football in the City section, which covers Portsmouth Football Club’s place in the history of the city. This section of the building even includes a traditional old-fashioned table football game which the students enjoyed trying out during the visit.  

The Story of Portsmouth section offers a glimpse into local home life, and includes a realistic replica of a living room from the 1950s which has to be seen to be believed. The room is brought imaginatively to life with vivid, bright colours. Included in the room are a sofa, an armchair, a coffee table and a small television broadcasting a black and white BBC programme from the era. Finally, two realistic mannequins of a father sat in the armchair reading his newspaper and his son lying on the carpet watching the TV set the scene and atmosphere of the 1950s perfectly.

In the Study in Sherlock section, you can look at the amazing artefacts in one of the world’s largest collections about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and his literary creation, the famous detective based at 221B Baker Street, London, Sherlock Holmes.

There is also a small Picture Gallery that showcases the city’s fabulous art from the Museum’s permanent collection. The pieces in the collection of Fine and Decorative Arts date from 1500 right up to 2010.

Finally, the must-see part of the Museum is the Silver City exhibition, which covers 500 years of Portsmouth’s history through silver treasures. A number of the pieces have been loaned from the Royal Navy and the local Anglican cathedral. One of the highlights here is a model of HMS Victory which was presented to the city when the Portsmouth Command of the Royal Navy was awarded the Freedom of the City in 1965. The model is made of copper taken from the Victory herself and is plated in silver. Sir Alec Rose's silver Freedom Casket marks the granting of the freedom of the city to the round-the-world yachtsman. Sir Alec, a local grocer, received a knighthood after sailing solo around the globe in his yacht, the Lively Lady in 1967-8.

All in all, the students really enjoyed their two hour visit. There are a lot of interesting things to see and do here making a visit to the City Museum an essential part of your Portsmouth experience!