Although the museum was opened in 1904 the history of its collections dates back to the late 1860’s when members of the Cleveland Literary and Philosophical Society Field Club gave various objects and specimens to create a museum at their premises on Corporation Road.
H.W.F. Bolckow, one of the founders of Middlesbrough’s iron and steel industry, was the first to contribute to the collection with the purchase of a number of birds in 1874.
Even though this collection was called a museum it was only really accessible to members of the Field Club. Items were not actually put on public display until 1890 when the growing collection was given over to the care of the Free Library Committee, who displayed the objects in the new Municipal Buildings and the Town Hall. A purpose built museum later became necessary due to Alfred Edward Pease’s offer to present his collection of African and Indian birds and animals for public display.
After starting life as a natural history museum the collection has grown and become more diverse over the years. Although much of the natural history collection (including our lion!) remains on show or carefully looked after in our stores, collections of cultural objects, items of local significance, domestic items, archaeology, Linthorpe pottery and geology are now amongst the many objects that we care for and exhibit. Hence the Dorman Museum displays have changed and become more diverse, and also more concerned with preserving and presenting the history of our unique town and its people.
Visit www.teesmuseums.com to view items from the collections online.