Explore a wealth of hidden treasures in the Secret Museum

Henry VIII lantern slide

Henry VIII lantern slide - Credit: Torquay Museum

If you have ever wanted to delve into the store rooms of a museum to discover some of the thousands of hidden treasures contained within, then you will love Torquay Museum’s new summer exhibition – The Secret Museum, which opens to the public on  Saturday, June 12.

For two years, museum curators have been planning and working hard to make this beautiful and fascinating exhibition a reality, working closely with the public to choose 175 unusual, wonderful and sometimes bizarre objects - one for each year that Torquay Museum has been in existence - many of which have never been displayed before.

“People who live and work in Torbay were invited to choose objects from the museum for inclusion in the Secret Museum exhibition,” said Clare Howe, project curator.

“So effectively, the people of Torbay have been co-curators of this exhibition and have been involved throughout.

"It has been very exciting to have the opportunity to help people explore objects they don’t usually get the chance to see because they are hidden away in the museum’s stores, and uncover for themselves some of the amazing stories behind them.

“Initially the public were welcomed into the museum’s stores to choose objects for the exhibition,” said Clare.

“But as Covid took hold this became impossible, so we innovated and gave people virtual tours of our stores so that they could select objects remotely.

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"This had the advantage of enabling people who would have struggled to visit us physically to take part in the project.”

The treasures on display in the Secret Museum exhibition vary enormously, from the beautiful to the thought-provoking, the wonderful to the downright weird.

Visitors to the exhibition will discover a Victorian marble table, an Ancient Greek pot from an artificial cave in Teignmouth, half-a-million-year-old stone tools from Egypt, Roman lamps, a Bronze Age axe from Ipplepen, a 125,000-year-old tusk from an extinct straight-tusked elephant, dozens of butterflies, and an enormous lammergeier bearded vulture, to name but a few.

The Secret Museum exhibition is part of a project to celebrate Torquay Museum’s 175th anniversary and opens to the public on Saturday, June 12, and runs until September 5.

It’s strongly recommended that visitors book their tickets online by visiting the museum’s website. Local people who live within a TQ postcode will get a 50 per cent discount on the admission price. All tickets allow repeat entry to the museum for 12 months from the date of purchase.

To celebrate the opening of the Secret Museum exhibition, entry into Torquay Museum is free of charge on Saturday, June 12, only.

Table made from limestone from South Devon

Table made from limestone from South Devon - Credit: Torquay Museum

Drawer of Alexandra birdwing butterflies

Drawer of Alexandra birdwing butterflies - Credit: Torquay Museum

An idealised view of the ‘New Museum and Wesleyan Church’, published in The Pictorial World weekly newspaper in 1875

An idealised view of the ‘New Museum and Wesleyan Church’, published in The Pictorial World weekly newspaper in 1875 - Credit: Torquay Museum