Opened in 1989 and set in a 19th-century harbour warehouse, Poole Museum illustrates the story of the town and its people. A major refurbishment of the museum took place in 2005 at a cost of £1.3 million funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and local fundraising. The renovated museum opened in July 2007 with new public facilities including a terrace and a visitor lounge with views over Poole Harbour and the Old Town and a new glass atrium entrance designed by architects Horden Cherry Lee. The centre piece of the museum is the 2,000 year old Poole Logboat, an Iron Age vessel which was found in 1964 during dredging work in Poole Harbour. The museum also has a floor devoted to the history of Poole Pottery and some of the company's products are on display. Other galleries have displays telling the history of Poole from prehistory through to the 21st century.
Attached to the main Poole Museum building, in the Grade I listed medieval town cellars, is the Local History Centre containing an extensive library of material involving Poole's heritage supported by microfilmed and digitised material. Poole Museum Service also manages Scaplen's Court Museum and Garden, situated next to Poole Museum. This is a Grade I listed medieval townhouse, which is opened to the public in August. The Garden is open May to September.