The River and Rowing Museum has exhibits about the history of rowing, the world famous Henley Regatta and there are also exhibits about the local area.
What to see at the River and Rowing Museum
The museum is organised into several galleries that tell the story of rowing, the River Thames and the local area around Henley-on-Thames.
The museum’s largest permanent gallery focuses on the River Thames and the Thames Valley including the river’s natural flora and fauna, the importance of the river to people living in riverside communities, boat builders and craft used on the river and music, literature and poetry that has been influenced by the Thames.
The Thames Gallery also has a display about bridges, locks and weirs along the river.
Schwarzenbach International Rowing Gallery
The Schwarzenbach International Rowing Gallery chronicles the history of rowing from its origins in ancient Greece right up to its place in the modern Olympics.
Parts of this gallery are devoted to the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, the Olympic Games and other international rowing competitions and there are also exhibits about coaching, nutrition and boat building.
The Rowing Gallery also features an interactive exhibit where visitors to the museum can sit in a rowing boat to experience a race at the Henley Royal Regatta.
The Wind in the Willows Gallery
The Wind in the Willows Gallery is devoted to Kenneth Grahame’s book Wind in the Willows that was set in the Thames Valley. This exhibition follows the storyline of the book and uses models and audio-visual displays to bring alive the world of Badger, Mole, Toad and Ratty.
This gallery features original images by EH Shephard, who illustrated several children’s books including The Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh.
Invesco Perpetual Henley Gallery
The Henley Gallery depicts local history in Henley-on-Thames.
Although Henley-on-Thames dates from the 12th century, the oldest exhibit in this gallery is an Iron Age hoard dating from around 50 AD that consists of 32 gold coins.
Other displays in this gallery show how the River Thames has played a vital role in the development and growth of the town.
The museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions.
Visiting the River and Rowing Museum
The museum is on Mill Meadows, part of the floodplain that is located southeast of the railway station. It is an eight-minute walk to the railway station and 10 minutes to the town centre.
There is free parking for museum visitors, but make sure you drive right down Meadow Road past the more expensive car parking at the station end of the road.
The museum is fully wheelchair accessible and there are disabled parking spaces close to the museum entrance.
The Cafe at the River and Rowing Museum has brunch favourites like eggs benedict and smashed avocado on toasted sourdough with healthy salad options on the lunchtime menu. Free Wi-Fi wireless internet access is available in the cafe.
Your admission ticket is valid for 12 months so you can come back multiple times. Admission is free with a National Art Pass.