Museums are vitally important. They’re crucial to our understanding and learning because they can teach us about the past, bringing history to life in all kinds of different, exciting, sometimes even interactive ways. When we’re able to learn about what has been before, we can strive towards a better future.
Museums aren’t just about what has already happened, however, in some cases they are about what is to come – what the future holds. Other museums are collections of fantastic things – weird and wonderful; beautiful and precious. Whether you choose to look back on the past or forward to the future, a day out at a museum is always going to be both educational and informative, and there’s a healthy dose of fun thrown in too. Kent is a county packed full of some of the most intriguing, thought-provoking museums…here are some of our favourites.
The Micro Museum
The Micro Museum offers a glimpse into our digital history and includes classic video games that can be played. You’ll see vintage computers and micro electronics too.
11 Church Hill, Ramsgate CT11 8RA
The Historic Dockyard Chatham
This museum is a special one. Once a real working dockyard, the Historic Dockyard Chatham is now home to many different ships, boats and even a submarine that visitors can explore. There are special events taking place throughout the year, and for drama fans you can even visit the set of the BBC’s Call The Midwife.
The Historic Dockyard, Chatham ME4 4TZ
The Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum
Housed at the historic Battle of Britain airfield in Manston, you can have the rare chance to see the Spitfire and Hurricanes that flew during World War II.
The Airfield, Manston Road, Ramsgate CT12 5DF
Dover Transport Museum
Dover Transport Museum is the only one of its kind in Kent, showcasing vintage transport that young and old enjoy in equal measure. To add to the great displays there are also lovely vintage shop fronts and a large model railway.
Willingdon Road, Whitfield, Dover CT16 2JX
RAF Manston History Museum
Manston has a fascinating, long and varied history when it comes to aircraft, and this museum details it all. This is the ideal place for history and transport enthusiasts to enjoy a day out.
Manston Road, Ramsgate CT12 5DF
Royal Engineers Museum
The Royal Engineers Museum is the largest military museum in Kent. It explains the story of the Royal Engineers over their 300 year history. Exhibits include 25 Victoria Crosses, Wellington’s map of Waterloo, Zulu shields and a massive V2 rocket.
Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham ME7 1UR
Rochester Guildhall Museum
The Guildhall Museum is housed in a stunning 17th-century building in Rochester. Inside you will find beautiful architecture and design and a fascinating timeline through Medway’s long history.
17 High Street, Rochester ME1 1PY
Dover Museum delves into the local history and archaeology of the area. It also contains the remains of a 3,000-year-old bronze boat – quite a sight to see.
Market Square, Dover CT16 1PH
Old prison cells mixed with local history – Margate Museum is wonderfully strange and extremely interesting.
Market Place, Margate CT9 1ER
The Powell-Cotton Museum
The Powell-Cotton Museum was created in 1896 in order for Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton to have somewhere to place his unusual natural history specimens and cultural objects. The museum remains just as interesting today as it ever was.
Quex Park, Park Lane, Birchington CT7 0BH
Sandwich Guildhall Museum
Sandwich Guildhall Museum is packed full of Roman relics, gold insignia and ancient coins, and tells the story of this wonderful Cinque town. This is where you will see the Charter of the Forest – the sister document to the Magna Carta – too.
Guildhall, Sandwich CT13 9AH
The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge is part museum, part art gallery and is completely alive with history and artefacts from the ancient past as well as more recent exhibits. There is always plenty for the entire family to enjoy including children’s activities.
18 High Street, Canterbury CT1 2BD
Canterbury Roman Museum
The Canterbury Roman Museum is, perhaps surprisingly given the county’s history, the only Roman Museum in Kent. Here you can see a beautiful example of a Roman mosaic and find out more about how the Romans lived and what they did to make Canterbury the town it is today.
Longmarket, 11A Butchery Lane, Canterbury CT1 2JR
Maidstone Museum is an interactive space where you can find out more about Kent’s county town and how it became such an important place to live and work. There are talks to enjoy throughout the year and many of them are free.
St Faith’s Street, Maidstone ME14 1LH
The Kent Museum of Freemasonry
Although you may not think it due to the secretive nature of the Freemasons, this museum is actually open to all and offers a huge range of exhibits detailing the Masons past; it covers Masonic history throughout the ages.
St Peter’s Place, Canterbury CT1 2DA
The CM Booth Collection
The CM Booth Collection features a range of the most beautiful classic and vintage cars. The main feature has to be the unique collection of Morgan three-wheeled cars dating from 1909 to 1935.
63-67 High Street, Rolvenden TN17 4LP
Teapot Island is the largest teapot museum in England; there are over 8,200 teapots to enjoy as well as more than 2,000 that teapot enthusiasts can actually buy. If you would prefer to design your own teapot, there is a paint your own studio on site too.
Hampstead Lane, Yalding ME18 6HG
Deal Maritime & Local History Museum
Stories of daring and exciting sea rescues form the backdrop of the Deal Maritime and Local History Museum, but there is a calmer side too explaining how Deal, Walmer and the surrounding area has changed over the centuries. You can see the Saxon King, built in 1891, and one of the Dunkirk ‘Little Ships’ as well as much more.
22 St George’s Road, Deal CT14 6BA
Walpole Bay Hotel Museum
It’s not every day you are able to stay in a hotel that includes its very own museum, but in Margate it’s possible. The Walpole Bay Hotel Museum offers a glimpse into an elegant past and shows visitors what it would have been like to stay in the hotel during the Victorian era.
Fifth Avenue, Cliftonville, Margate CT9 2JJ
The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales is a different kind of museum, but a delightful one nonetheless. Here you can, along with a guide in the shape of headphones, walk through Chaucer’s England, listening to his stories and making your way from London to Canterbury, just as the pilgrims did.
St Margaret’s Street, Canterbury CT1 2TG
Kent Firefighting Museum
The Kent Firefighting Museum is always a popular choice for a day out. It hosts a number of displays showing historical firefighting equipment, photographs and records, and tells the story of firefighting in Kent. You can even sit in the front of a real fire engine.
Woodlands Garden Centre, Ash Lane, Ash, Nr Sevenoaks TN15 7EG
Dickens House Museum
When Charles Dickens visited Broadstairs he was immediately inspired, and the house that is now where the Dickens House Museum is situated in is where he visited when in town. It was the inspiration for Betsy Trotwood’s cottage in David Copperfield and is a fascinating insight into how the man worked.
2 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs CT10 1QS
Fleur De Lis Heritage Centre
Described as an Aladdin’s cave of treasures, the Fleur De Lis Heritage Centre follows Faversham’s history from the earliest archaeological finds through to the 21st century.
11-13 Preston Street, Faversham ME13 8NS
The Huguenots are often see as the first refugees to flee to Britain in order to escape persecution in France (and at great risk to their own lives). This museum tells their story and shows the crafts, trades and skills that came with these brave people.
95 High Street, Rochester ME1 1LX
The Seaside Museum
There is always a variety of exhibitions and artefacts to be seen at the Seaside Museum, which tells the history of Herne Bay. The exhibitions change regularly, so no two visits should ever be the same.
12 William Street, Herne Bay CT6 5EJ
The Shoreham Aircraft Museum
Founded in 1978 by local enthusiasts, the Shoreham Aircraft Museum is a fascinating reminder of the Battle of Britain and what the pilots faced. There are hundreds of artefacts to see including flying helmets and uniforms.
13 High Street, Shoreham TN14 7TB
St Margaret’s Museum
Focusing on the St Margaret’s area during World War II, St Margaret’s Museum is able to go into fascinating detail about how the environment, the economy and the people were affected during this time.
Beach Road, St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Dover CT15 6DZ
Ramsgate Maritime Museum
Describing the Maritime History of East Kent, the Ramsgate Maritime Museum is an evocative and thought-provoking place with plenty to see and do for all ages.
The Clock House, Pier Yard, Royal Harbour, Ramsgate CT11 8LS
Deal Timeball Tower Museum
The Deal Timeball itself is part of the Greenwich Mean Time system and is a maritime signal – it drops every day at 1pm, so be sure not to miss that when you’re visiting the museum. The museum itself covers the story of smuggling in the area, and goes back through 300 years of history.
Victoria Parade, Deal CT14 7BP
Kent & Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum
The Kent & Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum was originally housed at Squerryes Court in Westerham but as the collection grew it moved to Hever Castle. Here you can learn about the regiment and see exhibits from throughout its history.
Hever Castle, Hever Road, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG
Finchcocks Living Museum of Music
Music is an important part of many people’s lives, and this unique museum showcases some fascinating and beautiful instruments from days gone by.
Waterdown House, 51 Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells TN2 5LE
Eden Valley Museum
The Eden Valley is a beautiful spot in West Kent and this museum brings its history to life thanks to an extensive collection of photographs and artefacts from social history.
72 High Street, Edenbridge TN8 5AR
Rose Street Cottage of Curiosities
Housed in one of the only remaining cottages that were built for the dockyard workers in the 18th century, the Rose Street Cottage of Curiosities is packed with unique artefacts that offer a peek into the Isle of Sheppey’s rich heritage.
10 Rose Street, Sheerness ME12 1AJ
Minster Abbey Gatehouse Museum
This lovely little museum displays objects from everyday life dating back to the Victorian era, as well as fossils, local art and local history. There is a small gift shop and café too.
Union Road, Minster-On-Sea, ME12 2HW
Tunbridge Wells Museum
The Tunbridge Wells Museum shares the story of Tunbridge Wells through art, archaeology, natural history, toys and much more.
Civic Centre, Mount Pleasant, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1JN
Colonel Stephens Railway Museum
Colonel Stephens built, managed and eventually operated 16 light railways in England, and this museum is testament to the hard work and dedication that he put into his work and his passion.
Tenterden Town Station, Station Road, Tenterden TN30 6HE
Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages
This museum offers an insight into how transport used to be and details what kinds of carriages would have been used in the past. See examples and artefacts of some of the oldest kinds of transport.
16 Mill Street, Maidstone ME15 6XT