Museum planning application for new extension and development approved

New Museum Entrance concept design -Carmody Groarke © 2015

New Museum Entrance concept design -Carmody Groarke © 2015

The planned extension and redevelopment plans for Dorchester’s County Museum have finally been given the green light by West Dorset District Council.

The plans, which call for the transformation of the museum’s facilities, include a new learning centre, library, café and shop and most importantly additional gallery space.

Hidden behind the museum’s 19th century façade lie almost 4 million artefacts, charting the natural, archaeological, cultural and social history of Dorset. Regrettably, many of these hidden gems have remained just that, hidden from view and unable to tell their story…until now!

With £13 million of the £15 million target already pledged, these hidden gems will once again see the light of day, helping to illustrate, educate and inform us of our unique history.

‘We are absolutely delighted that the relevant authorities have recognised the importance and significance of the project to the local community and to the county. We can now look forward to realising our ambition to provide Dorset with the appropriate facilities in which to properly conserve, display and make accessible, our wonderful collection.’ says Dr Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County museum.

Online donations to the appeal can be made via

Gold coins circa 70-50BC found in Tarrant Valley - DCM © 2017

Gold coins circa 70-50BC found in Tarrant Valley – DCM © 2017

In recognition of the Museum’s unique collections and its role in furthering the knowledge of palaeontology the museum will be welcoming its largest and oldest visitor in February 2018. Dippy, the famous diplodocus skeleton replica from the National History Museum is embarking on national tour with Dorchester being his first stop.

When he was roaming the Earth, Dippy measured almost 30m in length and weighed an incredible 15 tonnes, once installed in the museum’s magnificent Victorian gallery there will be just inches to spare.

Dr Jon Murden, is understandably overjoyed at the prospect of Dippy coming to town.

“Dippy’s visit is a once in generation opportunity and as such we’re expecting a huge demand for tickets” says Jon. The museum’s online ticket reservation service will be launched very soon but visitors are advised to register their advance interest by visiting and visiting the Dippy page.

Working in partnership with the Jurassic Coast Trust, visitors to the museum will receive expert guided tours and experience real life time travel by visiting the Jurassic Coast and travelling back 155 million years.

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Tripadvisor “Certificate Of Excellence 2015” awarded to Museum

Volunteer, Nicole Englehardt and Front of House Manager, Alison Goff with the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor

Volunteer, Nicole Englehardt and Front of House Manager, Alison Goff with the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor

Recognised as a top performing Museum as reviewed by travellers on the World’s largest travel site, Dorset County Museum is thrilled to announce that it has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award for the third year in a row.

Now in its fifth year, the award celebrates excellence in tourist attractions and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve great reviews on TripAdvisor. Certificate of Excellence winners include attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a superior customer experience.

When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor uses a proprietary algorithm that takes into account the quality, quantity and recency of reviews and opinions submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period, as well as each attraction’s tenure and ranking on the Popularity Index on the site. To qualify, an attraction must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is a true source of pride for the entire team at Dorset County Museum, and we’d like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor,” said Dr Jon Murden, Director of the Dorset County Museum. “There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by your customers. With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence in the Museum and our continued commitment to excellence.”

“TripAdvisor is pleased to honour exceptional hospitality businesses that have received consistent praise and recognition by travellers on the site,” said Marc Charron President, TripAdvisor for Business. “By putting a spotlight on hospitality businesses that are focused on delivering great service to customers, TripAdvisor not only helps drive increasing hospitality standards around the world, it also gives businesses both large and small the ability to shine and stand out from the competition.”

TripAdvisor® ‘Certificate of Excellence’ for Dorset Museum

Dorset County Museum awarded 'Certificate of Excellence' Recognised as a Top Performing Attraction as Reviewed by Visitors on the World’s Largest Travel Site

Dorset County Museum awarded ‘Certificate of Excellence’ Recognised as a Top Performing Attraction as Reviewed by Visitors on the World’s Largest Travel Site

Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, Dorset, is delighted to announce that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award – for the second year running. This prestigious award, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to the top-performing 10% of establishments – those which consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, Establishments awarded the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website.

Certificate of Excellence winners are selected using reviews ratings from its visitors – qualifying organisations must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five. Other factors include the volume and recency of reviews, the length of time a property has been listed, and a property’s popularity ranking.

“We are very grateful to our visitors for the positive reviews and high ratings they give us on TripAdvisor” said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum. “We are always working hard to improve the museum and one of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to the independent feedback we receive from our visitors.”

Dorset County MuseumThe Museum is currently enjoying an increase in visitor numbers – in 2013 nearly 50,000 people visited the Museum including local residents, holidaymakers, researchers, educational groups and people coming to the many family activities, lectures and music events. The Dorset museum is also moving ahead with a major development project which will transform public access to its collections. Architects Carmody Groarke are assisting with an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund which will be made by the end of the year.

Fundraising activities continue to support the work required in advance of the application. For further information see

Dorset County Museum selects Award-winning architects for new project

Dorset County MuseumDorset County Museum in Dorchester has selected architects Carmody Groarke to renovate and expand their Grade II listed building in Dorchester.

The project would result in the creation of new galleries for Art, Natural History and Costume and Textiles plus a brand new custom-built exhibition space. In addition, the work will create a world-class archival facility and develop a series of new buildings and spaces that will provide more public access to the vast collection.

Named the ‘Collections Discovery Centre’, the project will include new facilities for display, education, research and the proper storage of reserve collections.

Dorset County Museum holds collections numbering approximately 3.5 million objects including one of the most important fossil collections in the UK and the Thomas Hardy Archive. Carmody Groarke’s approach will acknowledge the different curatorial interpretations of the collections and the variety of environmental conditions they require.

Dorset County Museum Development Appeal

David Taylor (Top)
Jon Murden (centre), Peter Down (second from front), Paul Atterbury (front) launch the fundraising project at Dorset County Museum. Photograph by George Wickham / DCM © 2013

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum said, “We see Carmody Groarke as a critical member of the team who will help turn our vision into reality. They have a track record of inspirational museum and heritage projects and helping smaller charitable organisations secure significant levels of funding to achieve their objectives.” For additional expertise, the Museum is also working with funding applications specialist Stephen Escritt of Counterculture.

The Team at Dorset county Museum are already fundraising in support of the project. Money has been received from private donors, individuals and some charitable trusts and the current Staircase Appeal is ongoing. Future plans include a ‘buy a brick’ campaign when the new building is given the go-ahead. For further information regarding the fundraising project, please contact David Taylor on 01305 262735.

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