About the Museum
In 2005 the museum closed for 12 months for extensive renovation and modernisation. This project cost some £700,000 and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from Okehampton Town Council, West Devon Borough Council, Devon County Council, the Okehampton United Charity and the Dartmoor National Park Authority. The improvements included new electrics and heating throughout the building, partial air-conditioning, a lift and modifications to facilitate access, a state-of-the-art exhibition gallery and new interpretive displays.
In recent years the museum has enjoyed an excellent reputation as a focal point for community activities, events and exhibitions. It provides a meaningful visitor experience and enjoys positive reviews from internal and external visitors. Volunteers have always been the lifeblood of the organisation and the museum’s current volunteers provide a range of services and disciplines to maintain the day to day operation.
Since 2014 the museum has undertaken the role of providing tourist information for North Dartmoor and the local area.
The Museum of Dartmoor Life originated as a charitable trust which was founded in 1978 to establish a museum for Okehampton and the North Dartmoor area.
The museum was first opened to the public in 1981. The museum premises consist of a three-storey former warehouse/mill and two ranges of buildings which were originally used for domestic and industrial purposes, all of which date from the early 19th century. The mill houses the museum while most of the range buildings are used as The Victorian Tea Rooms and let privately. The buildings are set around a cobbled courtyard which provides open-air seating. At the rear of the museum there is a car park and 19th-century waterwheel.
The museum’s core collection was transferred from a private museum at Clannaborough Farm, Throwleigh. It consisted mainly of farming and social history material from northwestern Dartmoor and set the tone for the collection’s future development. The theme ‘Dartmoor Life’ was adopted in 1982.
Three major building development and conservation works during the 1980’s and gallery refurbishments in the early 1990’s provided increased space and facilities for displays, events, research and storage for the growing collection.