FREE ADMISSION | Open Mid – March to the end of October Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 – 16.00 Sunday 11.00 – 16.00

History

Our Story So Far

Despite being long acknowledged as the Gateway to Exmoor, with a social, economic, historic and cultural record that can be traced back to 1046, Minehead did not enjoy its own local Museum until 2014.

For many years enthusiastic local community groups strove to establish such a Museum, but neither cash nor suitable premises could be found.

This changed in 2013 when a Pop-Up Museum was created in the town’s former visitor centre by the Museum Group of the local Conservation Society, with additional support from the Minehead Development Trust. The creation of this group owes much to the enthusiasm of Oliver Davies, first Chairman of the Minehead Conservation Society.

In just two weeks of summer 2013 the Pop-Up Museum attracted over 1,000 visitors. It also drew offers of practical support from local residents, Minehead U3A, and the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, spare showcases from a neighbouring museum, and great media coverage. As a result, YMCA Somerset Coast, who run the Beach Hotel in Minehead as an apprenticeship scheme for young people, offered space as home for a permanent museum.

This opened in March 2014 and, although small in size, attracted 6,000 visitors in its first year, with very positive feedback from local people as well as visitors:
“This little museum deserves to succeed…exhibitions are themed… changed regularly… my father has lived in Minehead for 35 years, even he learned a great deal about his adopted home town… there’s plenty to interest all generations… Minehead has a fascinating history… it is far more than a sleepy seaside town at the end of the A39”.

In June 2017 the Museum was able to expand further within the hotel complex, almost doubling the available exhibition space.

The new, more expansive museum re-launched on the 30th July 2017 and by the end of that season had welcomed just over 8,000 visitors. This grew to 9895 in 2018 and, by the end of the 2019 season, 11,697.

Our visitors are residents as well as tourists and include many locals who have been drawn back to explore the expanded museum with its new displays and exhibits, and even some who were previously unaware that Minehead now had its own museum.

Our long-term aspiration is to be able to gain more exhibition space, but in the meantime our current plans are:

  • To consolidate on all achieved since 2014
  • To grow the Museum Friends scheme
  • To attract new volunteers, especially stewards, cataloguers and conservers
  • To roll out the children’s quiz scheme to more schools and youth groups
  • To arrange two public talks every year
  • To add to the museum’s growing range of publications
  • To acquire new items that will extend knowledge of, and interest in, local history and heritage

In summary, we look forward to celebrating Minehead Museum’s successes, aiming for even more enhanced Friends, footfall and finances!