Using dozens of objects which have never been on public display before, Silver City, will shine new light on people from Portsmouth – from the famous, to royalty to the ordinary folk.
Most of the items come from the city's civic collection but others have been loaned from the Royal Navy, the city's Anglican cathedral and the Goldsmiths' Company Charity.
Co-curator Susan Ward said: ‘It is one of the most significant collections of silver outside of London – not necessarily because of the value, but because of the dates they come from, the design, the makers.
‘It’s not meant to be a “bling” collection, but putting about people behind these objects and bringing them to life.’
Among the items which will be included in the exhibition are the Bodkin Cup, which was made in 1525 and presented to the city in 1591, two flagons presented in 1683 by the Duchess of Portsmouth – one of Charles II's mistresses, and a pair of Royal Marine figurines, presented to the city by The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip in 1959.
Much of the collection is kept locked up in cabinets in the lord mayor’s chambers at The Guildhall.
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Frank Jonas said: ‘The first involvement I had with the city silver was when I was elected as a councillor in 2006.
‘I had no idea we owned anything comparable to this. I’m still amazed by it when I walk down the aisle here. It’s just superb – the craftsmanship is incredible.
‘I am so proud that we have kept it together. When The Guildhall was bombed in The Second World War, we were very lucky to find it all in a safe under the building.
‘At this exhibition thousands of people are going to see it who would never usually get the chance to do so, and I am very keen that as many people see it as possible.
‘I want people to enjoy it as much as I have over the past 16 years.’
Silver City will open at The Portsmouth City and Art Museum in Museum Road in May and run through to February 2023. Entry will be free.