The Victorian Gallery is the main gallery of the museum. It was built in 1883 with arches of fine cast ironwork inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851 and International Exhibition of 1862, and a beautiful rose window. Displayed within the gallery is a rich and varied collection of artefacts, paintings and sculpture. The mosaics inlaid on the floor came from Roman town houses excavated in and around Dorchester - the site of the Roman town of Durnovaria.
The Victorian Gallery houses an eclectic selection of objects representing the domestic, working and public lives and culture of the people of Dorset. However, the objects on display form only a fraction of our total collection - there are well over 3,500 social history objects in store.
The Victorian Gallery is the venue for the Museum's lively programme of events, and has been described by performers as having the one of the best acoustics in the south of England.
Durngate Street Roman Mosaic Pavement
The floor of the Victorian Gallery at Dorset County Museum is one of the few places in Europe where you can actually walk on a Roman mosaic.
This large geometric pavement was discovered during building work in Durngate Street in Dorchester in 1905 and was re-laid at the Museum by the then curator, Captain Acland.
It has extensive use of interwoven guilloche (pliant joining) and in the corners of the central area there are urns decorated with snakes and foliage. Such detailed and intricate patterns show the tremendous skill of the mosaicists working in Roman Dorchester.
The Durngate Street pavement also has the highly unusual feature of a signature or trademark. It takes the form of an isolated ‘fruit and leaf’ or ‘ball and spear’ motif inserted into one of the triangles inside the main circle.