Pannett Park Museum, Whitby is a wonderful place to while away a few hours. The museum itself was opened in 1931 annexing the art gallery the foundation stone of which was laid in 1927.
Pannett Park Museum is run by the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society which was founded in 1823 by a group of leading Whitby citizens. Over the years the Whitby Town Council is responsible for the upkeep of the building but the majority of the overseeing and running of the museum is left to volunteers.
There is so much to see when looking around the museum and Art Gallery. The Art Gallery has free admission and contains a wonderful collection of work by the Staithes Group of artists in the Staithes Room, the second gallery houses a collection by the Weatherill family who lived and worked in Whitby in the late 19th and early 20th century. Their work is a pictorial record of the development of the town, in the absence of photographs, the detail of the paintings allow us to see Whitby as it was in the days of sailing ships and the busy local fishing boats. The third gallery is home to exhibitions by various artists or local talent.
Pannett Park Museum, Whitby charges an admission fee but it is free for local residents, however, the quality of the exhibits is such that even though a fee may be charged, it is certainly excellent value. Exhibits include a Natural History section containing many fossilised creatures including the skeleton of a dinosaur, stuffed birds and animals, a collection of a insects and a beautiful array of Whitby Jet in the form of jewellery, chess sets, a replica carving of Whitby Abbey and carved bible covers.
An important part of the town’s history is that of the Whaling ships and there is an exhibition showcasing two whaling captains, William Scoresby (he who invented the Crows’s nest) and William Scoresby Jnr. Exhibits include whalebone carvings and teeth. Whitby’s other famous son, Captain James Cook, who was sent to observe the Transit of Venus and discovered Australia and New Zealand has a section devoted to his travels with a collection of memorabilia from his extensive travels.
Unusual exhibits to be found include a Hangman’s Locket (considered lucky to have a piece of the hangman’s rope especially if a card player!) and the Hand of Glory, a mummified severed hand, normally the right hand chopped from a felon on the gallows, it was used (so legend has it) to induce a coma in the residents of a home whilst a thief could steal at will.
The aforementioned are only a small part of the vast displays on view at the Pannett Park Museum, Whitby. It is well worth a visit for both historical information and curiosity.