Voted the Museum of the Year 2012, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) is a world-class museum that focuses on Devon and Exeter's rich history. Just like its namesake in London, the RAMM packs in a huge number of natural history exhibits along with many exhibits and antiquities that demonstrate what a wonderful world we live in.
When to visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, the RAMM is located in a stunning building on Queen Street which has been likened to a “Venetian casket” in the heart of Exeter city centre. The typically Gothic structure even has a section of Roman Wall behind it ‐ well worth checking out!
Even though it is only a regional “hub” museum, the RAMM has 1.5 million objects, not all of which can be on display at any one time.
The best way to enjoy a visit to the RAMM is to dip in and out on several short visits rather than planning a whole day there, although you will find time slipping away as you wander from one gallery to the next. It can be something of an information overload if you try to do too much.
Interspersed with a browse around the Guildhall Shopping Centre, a walking tour of the city or a visit to the cathedral, the RAMM will enhance every visit to this lovely city.
The RAMM was established in 1870 and recently underwent a £24 million four-year program to redevelop and update it. It's now a wonderful place to spend half a day and even children will enjoy the zoology and archaeology collections. There are mammals and invertebrates from all over the world including the national collection of echinoderms which includes star fish, sand dollars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers in some amazing displays. Other zoological specimens include thousands of butterflies and moths, beetles, birds and mammals.
Historic collections at the RAMM
The coins and medals collection at the RAMM is particularly interesting. Many other local objects date back to the Stone Age, Neolithic and Iron Age.
Artists will really enjoy the fine collection of Decorative and Applied Arts in the museum, The Fine Arts Collection features mainly British artists and those with local connections to Devon. There are plenty of sculptures, prints and drawings along with paintings and portraits on display. The collection covers 16th century and Victorian artworks through to more modern 20th century exhibits. Some of the best known artists on display include Thomas Gainsborough, William Etty and Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was born in Plympton Devon.
Those interested in the Costumes and Textile exhibits will find they are not on general display permanently. Occasionally they are featured in the temporary exhibits and they include everything from hats, shoes and fans to beautiful examples of Honiton lace.
Activities and events at the RAMM
The RAMM is far more than a static showcase of inanimate objects. There is always something happening to involve families and educate visitors. There are frequent talks and lectures on topics as diverse as Elizabethan South West England and talks about birds and wildlife from local RSPB experts. The museum hosts lunchtime lectures and offers occasional guided tours of the Art Gallery with an Emeritus Professor of Art History from the University of Plymouth or Art History Specialists from Exeter University.
Family friendly activities include dressing up as a Tudor and trying on a bumble bee costume. There is an Egyptian mummy and red Indian artifacts which always fascinate younger visitors and look out for the giraffe which appears to go through the ceiling!
Next time you find yourself with an hour to spare in Exeter, head to the RAMM for a look around. You can also drop into the café which has a very nice selection of scones and cakes!
Most Exeter locals have visited the RAMM and we'd love some local feedback on what you enjoyed the most. Is there anything you would particularly recommend to visitors with children?