Whitstable Museum and Gallery is a heritage centre in Whitstable, Kent, and is notable for its displays showing the history of the local oyster trade started by the Romans and of historical diving equipment. It is open on weekdays throughout the year, and on Sundays in summer. Admission is free, with access for the disabled.
The building is like the Tardis in that the tiny doorway opens up into a large hall of displays. In 1881 the Ancient Order of Foresters bought the building, and inscribed "Foresters' Hall" over the door.
The natural world display shows life on the shoreline, including plants, fossils, sealife and birds.
The museum's largest object is Whitstable's first horse-drawn fire pump, which was manned by twenty-six volunteers. In 1867 the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society had donated it to the town. The diving display shows Standard diving dress with Siebe Gormanhelmet and the traditional red bonnet to protect the head against the helmet (see image below). The museum also contains relics from the East IndiamanHindostan, which wrecked at Margate in January 1803.
The collection includes ship paintings on the theme of international and local trading links; town, shore and coastal views; the work of local artists; artworks borrowed from an international network of galleries.
There are about six exhibitions per year: some local, some which have toured nationally, and some with associated public events. In 2001 there was a special exhibition about art and water. In March 2002 there was an exhibition in which visitors could handle historic diving equipment and watch films about diving. There was a 2009−2010 exhibition on the last oysteryawl, Favourite, and a Girl Guides exhibition in 2010, finishing in March. The museum takes part in the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival by hosting interactive exhibitions. In September 2009, the museum had a World War II frontline exhibition.
Workshops are provided for schools and colleges, and students can study with practising artists. Adult courses, and a children's "Little Oysters Story Time" are held in addition. In 2007 there was a workshop in which children could make sock animals.
This museum was expected to experience re-allocation of some of its square footage to educational space as of 2009, pending a decision by Canterbury City Council on 18 February 2010. In the event the Council voted in favour of this proposal. This means that some exhibits described in this article have been or will be removed during 2010 to created educational space.