Telephone Number: 01947 602908
Whitby Museum is a private museum in Whitby, North Yorkshire, England, run by Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society, a learned society and registered charity, established in 1823.
It is located in a building opened in 1931 in Pannett Park, Whitby, which also contains the Society’s Library and Archive.
The museum contains a wide range of material relating to the history of Whitby, and has specialist collections relating to:
- Whitby jet
- Captain James Cook and HM Bark Endeavour
- Whitby’s whaling industry.
The Museum, library and archives are run by our parent organisation “The Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society.” The Society was founded in 1823 by a group of leading Whitby citizens led by the Rev. George Young, the author of the classic nineteenth century “History of Whitby” (1819) and minister at the Presbyterian Church. The main object of the Society was to setup and maintain a museum, specialising in fossils, since “Whitby is a chief town of a district abounding with petrifications and containing not a few Antiquities”. Ever since then, the Whitby Museum has been run for the people of Whitby by the people of Whitby.
The Museum opened in 2 rooms over a shop in Baxtergate, moving within four years to the top floor of the waterfront building now known as Fusco’s Quayside Fish Restaurant. On the ground floor were the public baths with a subscription library on the first floor. This strategic site on the fashionable promenade of the Victorian resort brought in many famous visitors : Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wilkie Collins.
In the last quarter of the 19th century collections of local plants, shells and butterflies, beetles and fishes were assembled. The same period saw the addition of many exhibits illustrating the history of Whitby, some of sizeable models of buildings and ships.
By the end of the 19th century the main anxiety of the Society was how to provide more space for the ever-growing collections. Various proposals for achieving this were considered over the next 25 years and the final decision was to build a completely new Museum building in Pannett Park adjoining the municipal Art Gallery.