Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery
Maidstone Museum is home to a vast collection of fine art and historical artefacts of international importance and is free to all visitors.
Founded in 1858 as the Charles Museum, after local Doctor Thomas Charles bequeathed his art & antiquities to the Borough Council in 1855, the Museum is housed in Chillington Manor, a charming Elizabethan Mansion in Maidstone Town Centre.
Maidstone Museum has over 600,000 artefacts in its collections, the largest in Kent and one of the best in the south east, with specialist collections in: Archaeology, Costume, Ancient Egypt, Ethnography, Biology, Fine Art, Geology, Local History and Japanese decorative arts and prints.
Within Maidstone Museum is the Bentlif Art Gallery: an extensive collection of watercolour and oil paintings donated by the Bentlif brothers which can be viewed digitally, and the Queens Own Royal West Kent Regimental Museum: an independent museum which tells the history of the QORWK and its predecessors from the mid 18th C to 1961. The Museum is also home to the Kentish Deli Café with its own Café Gallery.
Maidstone Museum has great temporary exhibition galleries which play host to a number of quality and diverse touring exhibitions over the course of a year, so there is always something new to see. We also have some great exhibitions for hire.
Throughout the year there is a busy and diverse schedule of events at Maidstone Museum, from craft activities and hands on workshops to tours and talks. You can keep up to date with all our great events by downloading a copy of our most recent events leaflet.
Maidstone Museum is a fantastic place to come for a group visit. Our friendly staff will be more than happy to help you plan a great day out and can arrange contextualising talks with the chance to get up close with some real artefacts as well as sorting out dining arrangements and guided tours. If you’re coming as a family take a tour with Spike, the friendly Museum dinosaur on one of our iPads.
The Museum is also very popular for school visits. The in-house Learning team design exciting hour long sessions to work with the KS1 and KS2 curriculum in History, Science, Art and Literacy that get the children engaging in active enquiry inspired by real artefacts. They also do Birthday parties!
Over the past few years Maidstone Museum has become an increasingly sought after location for Corporate Hire, playing host to executive meetings, conferences, workshops and seminars. If you want an interesting and inspiring venue, Maidstone Museum fits the bill.
With so many objects in our collections that need preserving, conserving, documenting, researching and cataloguing, we are always grateful of assistance. There are many ways you can help support the Museum from donations to volunteering, or else by joining the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation. For paid job opportunities with the Museum, check our Job Vacancies page.
If you are interested in making use of the Museum’s Enquiries/Identifications Service, Object Acquisition Programme (Donations) or looking to conduct research relating to our holdings, then you can find out information on both on our Advice for Collection Enquirers page.
Your visit is important to us and with so much to see and so much going on it is important to plan your day to get the most out of it. If there is anything you are unsure of or would like to know more about, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.
Recently we have been part of a joint project with four other museums in the South East to carry out an ethnographic collections review entitled: Uncovering Ethnography in Kent and Sussex. The project was funded by the Arts Council England’s Strategic Support Fund.
To find out more visit the Uniques Project website.