At the Museum of East Dorset, we honour the legacy of our founder Hilda Coles, by upholding her vision of a “… live museum, at the centre of education and culture”.

The vibrant activity program offers varied and flexible learning opportunities for visitors of all generations, from early years to adults. Much of this activity takes place in the dedicated learning space of the Hilda Coles Open Learning Centre.

“Engage with the past. Inspired for the future.”

Through the interactive galleries and engaging resources, we strive to stimulate pupils’ curiosity and help them to make connections between their local history and heritage and the world in which they live today. Beyond the learning centre itself, we make full use of the galleries, the building and its collections as inspiration for fun and memorable activities, offering a variety of ways to learn about and engage with the collections and local history.

For our younger visitors, we have developed a wide range of curriculum-linked topics, continually developing innovative and creative ways of supporting subjects across all key stages of the National Curriculum.

We offer a flexible programme of both formal and informal lifelong learning opportunities throughout the year, specialising in creative, hands-on workshops using the museum’s collections and building to enrich learning.

For those who like to learn at their own pace, you can also choose to explore the museum in your own way with a self-directed tour.

Award-Winning Learning Programmes

We are proud that our commitment to educational excellence has been recognised on numerous occasions. The Museum of East Dorset has been awarded the Heritage Education Trust’s Sandford Award for Excellence in Heritage Education six times, most recently in 2018. Our dedicated volunteer team of learning assistants also won the Marsh Trust Award for the south west region in 2018, an award which recognises the contribution of volunteers to museum learning across the UK.

Most recently, the museum has signed up to the Kids in Museums manifesto, demonstrating our commitment to being welcoming and accessible to all children, young people, and families.

How Can We Help You?

To learn more, follow the links below:

Early Years
Key Stage 1 and 2
Key Stage 3 and 4


How We Work:
Placements & Partners
Online Classroom
Teachers’ Resources

Lifelong Learning

Accessibility (SEND)

The learning team, and the Museum of East Dorset as a whole, is committed to offering inclusive learning opportunities for all visitors. As part of this, we strive to ensure that children with special educational needs gain equal access to learning opportunities throughout the museum. We now have some fantastic ‘Sensory Superhero Sacks’ full of resources that have been specially design with SEND children in mind. They include PECS style planning boards, ear defenders, fidget toys and puppet characters to guide through their museum visit. Please email our Learning Officer for more information on [email protected] or visit the SEND webpage under visit information. 



The Museum of East Dorset wouldn’t be what it is today without the incredible contribution of our volunteers, who give thousands of hours of their time each year.

Whether they’re beavering away behind the scenes to maintain the collections, the garden and book shop, greeting you with a smiling face front of house or brewing you a drink in the tea rooms - these volunteers proudly support every element of the organisation.

With boundless energy and enthusiasm, volunteers of all ages and abilities provide invaluable assistance, enabling us to continue our work.


The Museum of East Dorset is an organisation at the heart of the local community. Our services are designed to draw on our historical resources and share them for the benefit of the community.

To deliver this ambition, we work in partnership with several local organisations.