Exhibitions at Portland Basin Museum


At Portland Basin Museum we run a fantastic changing programme of exhibitions - so there's always something new to see!

Current Exhibition


28 April – 14 October 2018
exhibition  exhibition  exhibition

This year we have worked with local primary schools and Z-arts in Manchester to mark 70 years of the partition of India.
This exhibition celebrates the work produced through this project, and also looks at the history and legacy of our local cotton mills.

Pupils used artist inspiration from several sources relating to the cotton heritage of Tameside and Greater Manchester. The project focus included the artwork of Harry Rutherford and a theatre performance of ‘Child of the Divide’, a play about the 1947 Partition of India written by Sudha Bhuchar and performed by Polka Theatre.

The pupil’s journey began at Z-arts in October 2017 by attending the ‘Child of the Divide’ performance. Each pupil took part in a drama and movement workshop that explored the play’s themes of conflict, partition and togetherness.

The pupils visited the Harry Rutherford collection at Central Art Gallery for a tour and themed visual art workshop before coming to Portland Basin Museum to see cotton industry related artefacts.

The performance, gallery visit and participatory workshops throughout the project have been facilitated by professional artists, with national curriculum links to a range of subject areas.

If You Go Down to the Woods Today

15 July 2017 until April 2018


Portland Teddy Bear  Portland Teddy Bear  Portland Teddy Bear


If you go down to Portland Basin Museum, you’re in for a big surprise. The museum has been taken over by teddy bears! Big and small, old and new, each bear has a special story to tell.

‘Ted’ has just turned 60, having been bought for his owner from Mr Lowry’s on Wharf Street, Dukinfield.  ‘Biggles’ was bought for his owner when he gained his pilot’s licence at the age of 70. And the most daredevil of all the bears, ‘Teddy’, recently did his first parachute jump! The bears have been loaned to the museum by people across Tameside.

As well as starring in the exhibition, some of the bears enjoyed a picnic at Stamford Park. Their adventures were captured by photographer Alison Hempstock and can be seen on display at the museum. 

To celebrate the exhibition, internationally renowned knitting and crochet designer, Emma Varnam, has designed Portland Bear.  Emma, who has written several crochet books and writes a popular blog on the subject, explains: “Portland Bear is inspired by my favourite museum, situated down by the picturesque Ashton Canal. Portland likes nothing more than spending his days on his pretty canal boat. He loves watching all the wildlife that live on the waterway. But his favourite thing to do is to welcome the school children who visit his museum.  A day filled with laughter, fun and learning something new is a great day for this little bear”. The pattern to make your own knitted or crocheted Portland Bear is on sale in the museum shop.

There are lots of hands-on things for children too, including a teddy trail, a pretend teddy bears’ picnic and books to read. Bring your bear along to join in the fun! 

Past exhibitions

If you missed any of our previous exhibitions, here is another chance to see them!