Located at the heart of the beautiful, historic coastal market town of Lymington, St Barbe is both a dynamic museum and highly regarded art gallery that appeals to both locals and New Forest visitors.

The museum explores the history of Lymington and the New Forest Coast, inspired by local pride, and supported by the local community, its collections and colourful, hands-on displays offer a fascinating insight into the area for all ages.

Vision

To become the most respected small Museum and Art Gallery in the UK – using art, heritage and culture to inspire the whole community. 

Mission

We will achieve our vision by:

  • Making St Barbe a great organisation that attracts and inspires talented people – staff, volunteers, Friends, trustees, contractors, partners and others
  • Working with our community to improve the range of cultural experiences for our audiences through the way in which we: 
  1. Collect, interpret and make accessible the cultural heritage of the New Forest Coast
  2. Deliver world class exhibitions and events
  3. Produce innovative cultural programmes and activities, including on the web 
  4. Encourage the participation of the wider community in creative pursuits
  •  With the aim of diversifying our audience and reaching out to people of varied background, age and abilities. 
  • Attracting a larger, varied and loyal group of donors, Patrons, Friends and revenue-generating visitors to provide a financially resilient base for our expanding activities. 

Core Values 

The integrity of our charity and of everyone who works here is hugely important to us if we are to fulfil our mission and realistically aspire to our vision. 

We will be: 

  • Creative – in everything we do and in the way we collaborate with others
  • Demanding – of ourselves and of our working practices
  • Fair – in our approach to audiences, supporters, colleagues and the wider community.  

The Art Galleries – Changing Exhibitions

Designed to the highest specifications, the art galleries host an active temporary exhibitions programme featuring a wide range of subjects throughout the year. Our exhibitions change every 8 weeks and the exclusive exhibition programme combines loans from the country’s finest public and private collections with the best of local art to create shows of national and regional significance.

‘Fantastic Museum, friendly staff and volunteers, and lots for the children to do. Exhibitions are of high quality and the selling gallery with the cafe is a unique idea. Great fun’

From our visitors guest book.

Collections

The museum’s collections represent life in the coastal strip to the south of the New Forest, the towns of Lymington and New Milton, Barton-on-Sea and the parishes of Boldre, Hordle, Milford and Sway. They illustrate how Lymington developed as a market town and port and reveal smugglers, salt makers and boat builders who have used the Solent shore.

The collections reflect aspects of life in the area from prehistory to the present day including home life, industry, shops, trades, farming, leisure, sport, war, holidays and the local environment.

We also hold an extensive photographic archive of the area. The museum now collects material in a digital format. We also specifically collect material for handling in our educational work with schools, pre-schools, families, the elderly and special interest groups.

If you have something which you think might be of interest to the museum please contact us.

Museum displays

The museum displays provide a colourful, hands on introduction to the New Forest coast. As well as historic artefacts to see there are objects to handle, costumes to try on and a range of activities including a replica pilot boat wheelhouse.

Sea to Land

Reveals that the world-famous fossils of the Barton cliffs tell us this area was once covered by sub-tropical sea and home to sharks, whales and alligators.

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