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Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery, Maidstone

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Art Museum Museum
Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery a local authority-run museum located in Maidstone, Kent, England, featuring internationally important collections including fine art, natural history, and human history.OverviewIn 1855 Thomas Charles, a local doctor and antiquarian, left his collections of art and antiquities to Maidstone Borough Council, requesting that his executors, “make such arrangements as they should think fit for the permanent preservation thereof in the town of Maidstone, and the same to be called the Charles Museum.” The Council subsequently acquired Charles’ house, Chillington Manor, from his executors and, in 1858, opened it as the Charles Museum, later renamed Maidstone Museum. The Museum was one of the first to be opened as a result of the Museums Act (1845) and was a founder member of the Museums Association (1909). Maidstone Museum celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008.This museum contains over 600,000 artefacts and specimens. Its collections, housed in the centre of Kent’s county town, are among the most comprehensive in the South East. The Museum is one of three operated by Maidstone Borough Council - alongside the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regimental Museum and the Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages - and is open six days a week. Admission is free.BuildingThe Museum's central core consists of an Elizabethan manor house, formerly known as Chillington Manor, completed in 1577 with earlier Tudor buildings to its rear. In the early 18th century a substantial wing was added to the west of the Tudor house. Upon the death of Thomas Charles an in accordance with his estate, Maidstone Borough Council purchased the building in 1856 for the sum of £1,200, investing a further £300 for repairs. On January 20, 1858, the Museum opened as one of the UK's first local authority-run museums, appointing Edward Petty - a friend of the late Thomas Charles - as the museum's first curator in September.
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  • We've been to the museum a few times and it's always been a hit. It's close to Maidstone town centre so parking isn't an issue and it's free entry which is always great when you have a family. The mus...  more »
  • Visited yesterday while out shopping. No information given at the entrance about routes, or what to find where, so just wandered through. Half way round was given a map - not easy to understand unless...  more »
  • Decided to visit to see the new extension for the first time. Impressed with the look of the outside but disapointed that the copper looked tatty and was covered in birds mess. Warm welcome from the y...  more »

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