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