There are a great variety of museums in Somerset. In Bath you may want to include a visit to the Roman Museum housing many of the items found during the excavations around the Roman Baths and elsewhere in the city. At the Assembly Rooms is the Museum of Costumes, one of the world’s largest displays, covering fashions back to Medieval times, and including exhibitions of jewelry.
At the far end of Pulteney Street is the Holbourne Museum and Crafts Study Centre. Here can be found paintings by Gainsborough, Turner, and Stubbs. There are also fine collections of silver, porcelain, and glass; bronzes, and enamels. Jane Austin fans will not want to miss the Jane Austin Centre at 40 Gay Street, off Queen’s Square.
Near Bath, there is the American Museum in Britain. The museum shows, largely by way of period rooms, how Americans lived from the early New England settlers to the eve of the Civil War. There are extensive gardens and an arboretum of New England trees and shrubs.
One of Bristol’s main attractions is Brunel’s ss Great Britain. This was the world’s first great ocean liner. Launched in 1843 to provide luxury travel to New York, the iron-hulled steamship revolutionized travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability, and speed. The ss Great Briain was the winner of 10 major awards in 2006 including the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the year.
Another of several museums in Somerset with seafaring connections is the Blake Museum in Bridgwater. This fascinating museum is in the historic house said to be the birthplace of Admiral Robert Blake. Full of local history and archaeology, there is a good range of exhibitions and an events program.
Glastonbury has several fascinating museums to interest the visitor. Glastonbury Lake Village Museum provides a unique insight into life in the Iron Age based upon the internationally important site of Glastonbury Lake Village. The Peat Moors Centre displays include a full-size reconstruction of three Iron Age roundhouses from the Lake Village. Somerset’s Rural Life Museum is also to be found at Glastonbury, exhibits include cider and cheese-making machinery, farm tools, and equipment displayed in a Victorian Farmhouse and farm buildings, and a 14th Century barn.
The Fleet Arm Museum has a fascinating display of aircraft from the Royal Navy, going back to the First World War. You can experience life aboard an aircraft carrier. Here, you can also board Concorde.
Car enthusiasts will not want to miss the Haynes Motor Museum which has over 340 cars as well as motorbikes on display and is the UK’s largest exhibition of the greatest cars from around the world. There are lots of events arranged throughout the year.
Also in Somerset is the Helicopter Museum, near Weston-Super-Mare. This is the world’s largest dedicated Helicopter Museum. the museum not only conserves full-size helicopters but also has a collection of associated literature, manuals, and artifacts.
Other fascinating museums in Somerset include the Dunster Doll Museum. Changing displays show over 800 dolls from many periods in various costumes. Then there is the Shoe Museum on Street, next to the famous Clarks Outlet Shopping Centre. Here, there are shoes and related exhibits from Roman times to the present day. Documents and photographs tell the history of shoemaking in the 19th century. Then there is the Somerset and Dorset Railway Museum at Watchet, a must-see for any train enthusiast.
Many towns in Somerset have their local museum including Chard, Castle Cary, Crewkerne, Wells, and Wellington to name a few. The Somerset County Museum can be found at Taunton Castle and includes displays relating to Somerset’s natural and human history. The North Somerset Museum in Weston-Super-Mare also has a good range of exhibitions and events throughout the year.