Written on 21/01/15 by Paul Oldham

Keswick Museum and Art Gallery

I've been meaning to write here for ages about a visit I made to the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery while whiling away a few hours in Keswick (I think I was waiting for Beth to complete a section of the Cumbria Way, of which more later). It's a delightful place which only recently re-opened after a refurbishment which included a new entrance.

Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
The Museum and Art Gallery with Fitz Park behind

You can find it at NY269237 which is the south east end of Fitz Park where the road from Keswick town centre crosses the park heading towards the leisure centre. If you're in the car you can park in the road outside where it's disc parking.

Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
The main gallery, just one of several

Inside you will find an amazingly eclectic collection of stuff built up over the last century or so since it was first opened in 1898 in the current, purpose built, building. Some of it is slightly macabre by modern standards, for example they have an extensive collection of stuffed animals, mainly birds taken by collectors in past times when that's what people did. There's also a man trap high up on one of wall, which older children will love but perhaps not to be pointed out to the squeamish.

But possibly my favourite of all, is the ceramic souvenir hand grenade. Yes, really. Apparently holiday mementos bearing the town arms were popular (they have several example) so after the start of WWI weapons of war, in this case a hand grenade, were glamorised as crested mementos!

Ceramic Souvenir Hand Grenade
Ceramic Souvenir Hand Grenade

For the children there are opportunities to dress up and other things to do, and for both children and adults alike there's a huge lithophone (a stone xylophone), the Musical Stones of Skiddaw which was lovingly constructed by one man over many years and which you are allowed to play! (Kendal Museum apparently have a lithophone too but from the pictures I've seen it's not a patch on this one!)

Slate Xylophone
Musical Stones of Skiddaw

For me perhaps the two most interesting sections were first the gallery on early climbing maintained by The Mountain Heritage Trust. Sadly I've not got any good photos from there but when you see some of the the equipment they were using then you realise that the early pioneers were made of strong stuff. The camera that they hauled up the hill in particular: it's the size of a crate! The second was exhibits from Keswick School of Industrial Art and, in particular some fine pieces like this ring:

Arts and Crafts Silver Ring

There's also an art gallery with a wide selection of paintings in, mainly literal rather than abstract and of local subjects, but if that's the sort of thing you like it will keep you occupied for a while.

And finally when you're finished there's Café West in the basement, at the level of Fitz Park, so after your visit you might like to go down there for a snack or lunch and, if it's a nice day, you can sit outside.

Keswick Museum and Art Gallery is a lovely place. Sadly it is, like everywhere else at the moment it seems, now being starved of funds. Having secured a large grant for the makeover, mainly from the Heritage Lottery Fund, they tell me they've been left with no help from Allerdale Borough Council for ongoing costs: they have to fund themselves. So your visit not only will give you pleasure but helps them. They're open daily 10am-4pm every day except 24-26 December and 1-2 January.

Adult £3.75 / Concession £3.30
Child (5–15yrs) £2.20 must be accompanied by responsible adult
Child (under 5) Free
Family & Friends Day Ticket £11

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