Explore our Collections

Explore our Collections

The Museum's collections were begun by Torquay Natural History Society (TNHS) which was founded in 1844. Less than a year later the society decided to establish a museum with the primary objective of illustrating the natural history of Devon.  The collections were housed in several temporary locations before it was decided that a permanent purpose built museum was needed. In 1876 the current building was complete.

THNS soon began to build a whole range of collections alongside natural history.  The Museum now holds more than 350,000 items, of which only about 1% is on permanent display. These collections include items of regional, national and international significance.  Our collections consisit of:

Natural History - The largest collection the Museum holds with over 150,000 specimens

Archeology - Torquay Museum holds over 5,000 archaeological specimens from Torbay and sites around South Devon.

Ancient Egyptian - Over 400 artefacts from Ancient Egypt, the core of which form the permanent Egyptology exhibition in the Explorers Gallery

World Culture - Our collection of World Material Culture (Ethnography) consists of over 2,500 items, from all over the world

Palaeontology - The Museum’s stores hold over 34,000 specimens collected from local caves

Social History - Over 8,000 items are kept in store covering many themes

Ceramics - The Museum has a collection of over 1700 ceramic items, including examples from the local potteries

Pictoral Records - Our large pictorial and documentary archive of around 50,000 items

Oral History - Oral History is an important way for the Museum to collect memories

Archives and documents - Torquay Museum holds a substantial collection of archives and documents



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