Top Kent museums

Best museums in Kent

With so many to choose from, deciding where to begin with Kent's museums can be a challenge. As a jewel in the crown of Kent holidays, this county, graced by its prime location on the southeastern coast of England, is steeped in a rich heritage that makes for a captivating visit. Discover Roman streets, dinosaur skeletons, and Bronze Age boats, all showcased within historic castles and buildings. These museums offer family-friendly fun, featuring interactive exhibits, dress-up opportunities, and activities that engage visitors of all ages. Some even boast sprawling gardens for a wild adventure in nature.

  1. Canterbury Roman Museum
  2. Dover Museum
  3. Jungle Jim
  4. Maidstone Museum
  5. Chiddingstone Castle
  6. Historic Dockyard Chatham

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Rough Guides

1. Canterbury Roman Museum

Step inside the Canterbury Roman Museum and walk down the stairs (there’s also a lift) to view the displays and exhibits on original Roman street level. Canterbury was once a significant Roman town, and this museum houses many different finds that have been excavated through the years. Take in the remains of a house, intricate mosaics and multiple reconstructions so you can really piece together what life in Canterbury looked like during and after Roman occupation. There’s also a few fun hands-on activities that kids (and big kids) will enjoy, from dress-up boxes to creating your own mosaic. This is one of the top museums in Kent for understanding your British-Roman history.

While you’re there: Don’t miss the glass cabinets of small, intricate objects, including silverware and jewellery.

2. Dover Museum

Make the most of the free entry at Dover Museum and discover the history and archaeology of this east coast town. Check out the range of real objects, original photographs and models to get a feel for the town’s history. While you’re there, pay close attention to the award-winning Bronze Age Boat Gallery, with interactive exhibits and microscopes to help you understand more. Then, there’s the Dover Bronze Age Boat, an internationally renowned archaeological discovery. It’s believed to be the world’s oldest seafaring boat, dating back some 3000 years.

While you’re there: Take a guided tour of the museum to get the full Dover lowdown.

3. Jungle Jim

If you’re travelling with kids, they will love the Jungle Jim in the Quex Park. With thrilling slides and indoor and outdoor play areas, there’s never a dull moment here. It’s a great place for a child’s birthday too, with dedicated party rooms. Kids can also head to Noah’s Ark and make their very own stuffed bear to take home with them!

While you’re there: There’s a cafe on site too, so you can really make a day of it here.

4. Maidstone Museum

Maidstone Museum is a Kent museum that truly packs a punch: 660,000 artefacts worth, in fact. The museum (and building) dates back to 1858, so you are quite literally surrounded by history. The various galleries display collections from far and wide: there’s an ancient Egyptian mummy and Maidstone cricket balls to check out, as well as regularly changing photographic displays. Oh, and don’t miss the Japanese Gallery, home to over 3000 artefacts including items of beautiful, decorative art.

While you’re there: Pay a visit to Maidstone’s old-timer, the Maidstone Iguanodon.

5. Chiddingstone Castle

Chiddingstone Castle is one of the best museums in Kent, with a fantastic variety of things to see and do here. This celebrated house is set in 35 acres of gardens, which include an intimate rose garden and fishing lake – and don’t miss the stunning views over the North Downs. The castle itself dates back to Tudor times, and was remodelled as a Renaissance-style castle centuries later. But venture inside and take in the vast collections of Japanese lacquer work and Samurai armour; and Buddhist and ancient Egyptian treasures.

While you’re there: Take a walk around the ‘Fields of Eternity’, an ancient Egyptian-themed garden.

6. Historic Dockyard Chatham

One of the most significant museums on this list is the Historic Dockyard Chatham, where you can find out all about Chatham’s ship-building heritage through interactive galleries, treasure troves and the UK’s largest collection of RNLI Lifeboats from throughout the ages. Their No.1 Smithery houses a world-renowned collection of unique items and exquisite art, while you can also clamber aboard a Cold War submarine, and ring the bell on a Victorian ship.

While you’re there: There’s the unique chance to visit the quarter-mile-long ropery.

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