From its official opening on 1 July 1904 initial thematical leanings were towards the natural sciences, although galleries of the local Linthorpe Pottery, work by eminent Victorian industrial designer Christopher Dresser and the history of Middlesbrough, have largely replaced this emphasis. The original collection included items such as a stuffed and mounted eagle owl in the act of taking a hare, a stuffed lion in a "rampant" pose, and many birds' eggs, butterflies, and insects preserved under glass and in drawers, with covers over the glass to avoid the effects of light on the specimens. One particular specimen case could shock the unwary, as it contained a model, at least 100 times normal size, of a human head louse. At about the same time, the museum possessed a fossil of an ichthyosaur. There was also a stuffed ribbonfish, of a species a few metres in length. One of the first contributors to the museum was Henry Bolckow, founder of Middlesbrough's largest ironworks, Bolckow Vaughan, who paid for some stuffed birds in 1874. Christopher Dresser was a pivotal figure in the Aesthetic Movement and deeply involved in the Linthorpe Art Pottery, which stood less than a mile from Dorman Museum. The museum has a significant Dresser collection. In 2014, the newly refurbished gallery dedicated to Christopher Dresser opened, showcasing 160 works produced directly from his designs, as well as those produced by others influenced by his work, and the collection continues to be extended. The Linthorpe Art Pottery gallery also reopened after extensive work and now showcases the largest public collection of Linthorpe wares in the world
Archive and Ephemera - The museum has archived materials related to the wider collections. The ephemera collection is based on the history of Middlesbrough and is wide ranging, consisting of commercial printed materials such as posters, invoices, letter-heads, and newspaper cuttings relating to Middlesbrough events and people. Botanical Collections - Mounted herbarium specimens: herbarium of Margaret Stovin assembled between 1798 and 1850. Comprises two major sections – British wild species (20 volumes) and planted exotics (10 volumes). Coins & Medals - 1,900 items including commemorative medallions, badges and banknotes as well as coins and military medals. Collections include the Yearby hoard of sixteenth and seventeenth century coins, the Thorpe Thewles hoard of Henry II and Henry III silver pennies and the Middridge hoard of Edward I coins. Costumes & Textiles - 2,400 items of women’s fashions from the 20th century including shoes, hats and accessories. There is also a small collection of uniforms, including military, childrenswear, under garments, sportswear and men’s suits, and an additional collection of 130 items, mostly Victorian. Decorative Arts - 340 items, mostly consisting of pieces from the Middlesbrough Pottery with some examples from other regional potteries and glass manufacturers. There is a small collection of pieces from the Bretby and Ault potteries because of their connections with the Linthorpe Pottery. There is also a collection of nineteenth century Japanese figures or okimono, possibly carved from walrus ivory. Geological Collection - Fossils, and Geological Collection - Rocks & Minerals. Photographs - This collection consists of about 3,500 prints, glass negatives and carte-de-visit, plus 2,190 lantern slides. Social History Collection - There are approximately 16,000 objects in the social history collections. The museum started to collect everyday objects in the 1930s, recognising that society was rapidly changing and old ways of life disappearing. World Cultures - The museum’s collection of around 1,500 artefacts from different world cultures has its origins in the colonial era. Sir Alfred Pease, in addition to his hunting trophies, also gave a collection of beadwork from NE Africa. George Lockwood Dorman within his brief life had managed to collect ethnographical items from various parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Oceania and South Africa when he was stationed there during the Boer War.
There are also a number of permanent exhibitions, such as '20th Century Woman' and the 'Lordship of Aklam Plan'. The museum offers full disabled access throughout. Wheelchair and pram access is available to all floors. The lift can accommodate up to three wheelchairs and three carers or teachers at any one time. There are 2 disabled parking bays immediately in front of the museum and the museum can be accessed via a ramp to the automated front door. A wheelchair is available for use by visitors, prior notice is preferred. Male, female and disabled public toilets are located on the ground floor and there are clearly marked fire escapes to the front & rear of the building.The lift has Braille indicators. Visually impaired visitors may like to know that the ground floor has parquet flooring in several galleries with floor set grills for the under floor heating system. Assistance dogs are welcome. Staff can provide a bowl of water, please enquire at the reception desk. Induction loops are fitted at the reception desk and most of the computer interactives. Most computer interactives have subtitles, however the Odeon Cinema and Earth in space Gallery films do not. Large text is used where possible on the display panels. Large text copies of labels and information are available for some exhibitions by prior request.
Location : Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough TS5 6LA
Transport: Middlesborough (National) then bus. Bus routes 11, 12, 27 and 63 stop close by.
Opening Times - Tuesday to Sunday + Bank Holidays 09:30 to 16:30.
Tickets - Free.
Tel: 01642 813781