Ensure A Future for Torquay Museum

Torquay Museum profile

Project by Torquay Museum

Ensure A Future for Torquay Museum

Torquay Museum profile

Project by Torquay Museum


raised so far

+ est. £1858.25 Gift Aid



Torquay Museum, home to internationally important ice age collections, is closed due to COVID-19. Without income, our future is at risk.

Help Support the Museum in these Challenging Times

As a charity, we are always fundraising to support our work of looking after the Museum and all its collections - for us it is always a year round activity but all our planed events this year are canceled. Even though we have raised just over £11,000 (with Gift Aid) thanks to your fantastic generosity, we will be keeping the Crowdfunding page open. Any additional donations received will be put towards the continued care and conservation of our collections and building including maintaining and improving the permanent displays and the temporary exhibitions we put on each year.

Thanks to the public support through this Crowdfunding campaign and the Torbay Council business support grant we are now out of immediate danger and we can confirm we will be re-opening around the 22nd July. All donations received to date will be used to help with our re-opening and make the visitor experience as safe and enjoyable as possible including the setting up of a brand new temporary exhibition.

Thank you for supporting us!


An Exceptional Museum in the English Riviera.   

Torquay Museum holds an exceptional collection for a regional Museum of over 330,000 items. Its Designated Quaternary Collection and Archive is the finest of its type in a regional museum in the UK. This comprises over 30,000 specimens of national or international importance and the most important associated archive related to this subject in Britain. The Museum’s general archive and image collection can also boast an exceptional letter collection amassed by Museum founder, William Pengelly’s daughter, Hester Pengelly, which includes probably the finest Jane Austen letter, a correspondence collection with Charles Lyle, letters from Darwin, Shackleton, Napoleon and many other globally important figures. It also has a large archive from the South American explorer Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett.   


The Museum also holds a highly important social history collection which can be considered the County Collection for this subject. It contains over 7,000 specimens covering many different themes from local costume to World War II. However, it is the Devon Rural life collection of around 1,800 items that stands out as one of the finest regional social history collections in the UK. It contains a large number of unique pre-industrial revolution items many of provenanced regional type. This collection was published by Peter Breares, as’ The Old Devon Farmhouse’ (1998). 

The Museum holds many other regionally and locally important collections. Our world cultures collections of around 3,000 items contain exceptional Fijian items some published recently by the Fijian Art Research Project and an as yet un-researched collection from Opium War China of similar quality. Our local geology collections contain thousands of Devonian fossils and rock specimens relating to Torbay’s exceptional Geological heritage recognised in the English Riviera Global Geopark, the only urban Geopark in the world. We also hold the only collection of items relating to the Torquay marble industry, closely associated with the Geopark. We are expanding, researching and publishing this collection, and a more permanent gallery in the Museum is also planned.  


The Museum needs more than £170,000 a year from visitor income to remain sustainable and to keep its doors open to visitors and these collections accessible.  


One of the rewards is a choice of 1 of 5 of A4 Agatha Christie Prints

At the time we closed due to the COVID19 pandemic we were working on a major project.

Torquay Museum 175 is a dynamic, community focused project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, celebrating the Museum’s past and looking to its future. Our collections will form the basis of two exhibitions created as part of this project. One curated by local people celebrating 175 years of Torquay Museum, the other taking the Museum outside its walls to showcase the photographic collection for free on the streets of Torbay. Working with many partners the project was also documenting and developing the Museum’s regionally important lantern slide collection of 7,000 images. This collection is linked to the history of the Museum and the learned society which founded it. Documentation and digitisation will preserve these images and make them accessible to the public for the first time. 

Engaging varied audiences and particularly local people through social media formed a key part to the project. This project provided opportunities for people to become involved with the project through community curation, the production of a film by local young people, a programme of contemporary collecting through a photographic engagement project and a diverse programme of special events, lectures and a celebratory conference.


Your donations will help us restart this programme of work which was seeing so much involvement from the local community. 

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