TEL: 01305 262735

Access Statement

  • Drafted: November 2015
  • Approved by DNHAS Board: December 2015
  • Due for review: December 2017

1. Introduction

Independently owned by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (DNHAS) and set in the centre of historic Roman Dorchester, the Dorset County Museum is an historic three level Grade II building dating from 1883. It contains displays of the archaeology, natural history, geology, art, literature and social history of Dorset.

This Access Statement is intended as a written, clear, accurate and honest description by the DNHAS of our current facilities and the services we offer, to enable you to make an informed decision as to whether the Museum meets your particular access needs.

 Our Mission is to inspire people to explore the past, understand the present and imagine the future.

 The DNHAS is committed to treating everyone fairly and in compliance with the Equalities Act 2010. Within the limitations imposed by its Victorian building, it will endeavour to provide access to public facilities, collections and activities at Dorset County Museum without regard to age, disability, gender, religious beliefs, colour, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, political persuasion or marital status.

Key Action: Between 2015 and 2020 the Collections Discovery Centre project will aim to completely transform the facilities at Dorset County Museum. It will develop and deliver a modern building with full physical accessibility, open access storage and more intellectually accessible interpretation and display.

2. Pre-Arrival & Transport

  • Address: Dorset County Museum, 66 High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1XA
  • Telephone: 01305 262735
  • Website:
  • National Grid Reference: SY 692 907
  • The ground level contains the reception, gift shop, tea room, toilets, baby changing facilities, Victorian Gallery, Temporary Exhibition Gallery, Rural Dorset Gallery and Library. The Dorchester Gallery is located as a mezzanine level within the Victorian Gallery
  • The first level contains the Jurassic Coast Gallery
  • The second level contains the Writer’s Dorset Gallery and Ancient Dorset Gallery
  • The Museum is signposted at key local junctions and from car parks by black finger signs
  • We are a 15 minute walk from Dorchester West Railway Station and a 20 minute walk from Dorchester South Railway Station.
  • The Museum is ¾ mile from National Cycle route 45
  • Dorchester’s main bus stop is immediately outside the Museum entrance
  • Contact Traveline South West ( or 0871 2002233) for details about service bus operators and route timetables

3. Car Parking Facilities

  • There is a set down point for disabled blue badge holders in front of Dorset County Museum but the Museum has no car park of its own.
  • The nearest car park (including disabled parking) is the 'Top of Town’ car park just beyond the roundabout at the end of High West Street.
  • The Museum is signposted from the car park.
  • The Museum is a 5 minute walk (500 metres) from the car park along High West Street on an even tarmac surface. The route is slightly downhill.
  • Further car parks in the centre of Dorchester are located in Charles Street, Wollaston Fields and Trinity Street.

4. Arrival, Main Entrance & Reception

  • There is single step (0.2m high) to negotiate at the Main Entrance.
  • A ramp is available and can be called by pressing the bell located on the left hand side of the Main Entrance doors.
  • The Main Entrance doors are automatic swing doors (1.2 metres wide).
  • Immediately on entering there is door matting flush with floor beyond which is a tiled foyer.
  • There is a Hearing Loop at Reception Desk.
  • The Reception Desk is 0.8 metres high.
  • Entry to Museum Gift Shop and Tea Room is free of charge.
  • Entry to the Museum’s galleries, exhibitions and displays is charged at the following rates:
    • Adult Gift Aid* Entry: £7.00
    • Adult Standard Entry: £6.35
    • Family (2 adult + 4 children) Gift Aid* Entry: £18.00
    • Family (2 adult + 4 children) Standard Entry: £16.20
    • Family (1 adult + children) Gift Aid Entry: £12.00
    • Family (1 adult + 2 children) Standard Entry: £10.80
    • Over 60 Gift Aid* Entry: £6.50
    • Over 60 Standard Entry: £5.90
    • Disabled Gift Aid Entry: £6.50 (includes one carer admitted free)
    • Disabled Standard Entry: £5.90 (includes one carer admitted free)
    • Child / Student Entry: £3.50
    • Children under 5 admitted FREE

*As a UK taxpayer your Gift Aid Admission includes a discretionary 10% donation which allows us, as a charity, to claim back 25 pence in the £1 from the Government. If you are not a UK taxpayer or you wish to opt out of this donation, please notify the desk staff when purchasing your admission ticket and the reduced (standard) fee will be charged

  • We have one manual wheelchair for use in the Museum, which is available at Reception.

5. Public Areas - General

  • The flooring throughout the museum is of carpet, tile, wood or vinyl.
  • Seating is provided in most galleries.
  • Lighting is mainly by LED spotlights and natural light but may be at low brightness to protect the artefacts.
  • The environment is maintained by a zoned environmental system which aims to keep temperature below 23 degrees Celsius and relative humidity below 55%.
  • There is a lift to the first level only. This does not provide access to the Ancient Dorset Gallery, Writers’ Dorset Gallery or Dorchester Gallery, which are inaccessible to wheelchair users.
  • The lift (1.4 x 1.1 metres) is accessed through doors 0.78 metres wide

6. Public Areas - Toilets

  • There is a male toilet with 3 urinals and 1 cubicle on ground floor
  • There is a female toilet with 3 cubicles on ground floor
  • There is one unisex accessible (Disabled) toilet with baby changing facilities on the ground floor.
  • Details of unisex accessible (Disabled) toilet (WC) on ground floor:
  • Width of door is 0.85 metres
  • Transfer to the toilet is from the left from a seated position (1.1 metres between wall and side of toilet)
  • The height of toilet (floor to seat) is 0.46 metres
  • The height of the wash basin (floor to rim) is 0.70 metres
  • There are a vertical and a horizontal wall rails to the left of the toilet (opposite side to transfer)
  • There is a vertical wall rail to the right rear of the toilet
  • A drop-down grab rail can be lowered from a vertical to horizontal position to the right of the toilet
  • There is an alarm call cord (red) which alerts Museum Reception

7. Public Areas - Tea Room

  • Hot and cold beverages, cakes and light snacks are available for sale in the Tea Room
  • Tables and wooden chairs are situated in the Tea Room area

8. Public Areas – Reception / Gift Shop

  • There is an area in the reception foyer selling souvenirs, toys, books, postcards and prints
  • We accept cash, cheques, credit & debit cards (Maestro, VISA, MasterCard)

9. Meeting Rooms

  • The Victorian Gallery, Learning Base and Library are available for hire and are ideal venues for workshops, lectures, training events, and meetings
  • The Victorian Gallery can seat 180 people in a theatre style, the Learning Base can seat 30 people in a lecture or seminar style and the Library 15 people in a seminar or meeting style. The temporary exhibition gallery is a high quality space for both two-dimensional and three-dimensional work. The gallery has dedicated exhibition lighting, hanging rails and a portable display walls.
  • The Victorian Gallery has a public address system including a hearing loop.
  • Digital, 35mm slide and Overhead Projectors are available and a laptop PC can be made available
  • These spaces are also used by local schools, colleges and groups of life-long learners.

10. Attractions

  • Dorset County Museum is a beautiful gothic Victorian building featuring intricate internal cast iron work
  • It is home to the most important Thomas Hardy archive in the world – inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register – highlights from which are on display in the Writers’ Dorset Gallery.
  • The Jurassic Coast Gallery plays host to the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur – the largest prehistoric marine reptile ever discovered.
  • The Museum holds internationally important collections of archaeology, from Prehistoric, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Romano-British Dorset, displayed in its Ancient Dorset Gallery.
  • The Museum also houses a large collection of fine and decorative art related to Dorset
  • Artefacts are mainly exhibited in upright or desktop style glass cabinets.
  • Laminated printed guides are available in most rooms.
  • Audio-visual presentations throughout the Museum show:
    • The story of Maiden Castle featuring Sir Mortimer Wheeler
    • The story of the South Dorset Ridgeway Viking Burial
    • Explanations of Neolithic pottery and Bronze Age metalwork
    • Julian Fellowes discussing the story of the Hardy Players
    • An overview of the Jurassic Coast shoreline
    • Archive footage related to rural life and farming practices in Dorset
  • Sound recordings of readings from the novels and poetry of Thomas Hardy are also available.
  • Interactive computer games (with touch screen operation) explaining the story of the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur can be found in the Jurassic Coast Gallery
  • Special exhibitions and events
  • Trails and activities for families.

11. Additional Information

  • Service dogs welcome
  • No smoking in any part of the building
  • No general background music. There are sound recordings, including one with music, associated with some displays and sometimes exhibitions in the Galleries include music and other audio visual content.
  • Human remains are displayed throughout the Ancient Dorset Gallery.
  • All staff and visitor-facing volunteers attend Disability and Diversity awareness training and Dementure Awareness training.
  • The Director, Head of Finance& Operations, Head of Visitor Services and Head of Education & Learning are all trained First Aiders.
  • The nearest defibrillator (AED) is located at the Royal Oak Public House, 21-22 High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1UW.

12. Nearby Restaurants and Accommodation

  • Nearest restaurant is Vinny at Six, 6 North Square, Dorchester, Dorset, Dorchester, DT1 1HY, (Tel: 01305 267679) - 4 minute walk.
  • Nearest accommodation at the The Old Tea House, 44 High W St, Dorchester DT1 1UT (Tel: 01305 263719) - 7 minute walk

13. Contact Information

  • Address: Dorset County Museum, 66 High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1XA
  • Telephone: +44 (0)1305 262735
  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Minicom: Not available
  • National Grid Reference is SY 692 907
  • Reference for Satellite Navigation is: Lat 50.715378 Long -2.4369746 or GL5 4AF

14. Hours of opening

April to October Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm Open Sundays in August 10am - 5pm
November to March Monday to Saturday 10am - 4pm Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day

15. Customer Feedback

We welcome your feedback to help us continuously improve. If you have comments or suggestions please leave them with a member of staff or at reception before you leave or phone or email them to us. Should you have a complaint please ask to speak to the Head of Visitor Services.

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