Keswick Museum and Art Gallery

Location : Keswick  –  Grid Ref: NY 269238

Station Road, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4NF. Tel: 017687 73263


Keswick museum has now reopened (2014) after a major enhancement project thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. It still features many of the orignal exhibits, and currently has an exhibition of digital mapping in the art gallery. There is a cafe below, serving good food using local produce.
Keswick Museum and art Gallery
Keswick Museum and Art Gallery in the Fitz Park was built at the turn of the century for ‘the inhabitants of Keswick and the visitors thereto’. The grand opening of the museum was on Easter Monday April 11th 1898, and it has remained unchanged ever since, apart from the provision of electric lighting and heating. Its Victorian style, and the range of exhibits make it a fascinating place to visit for all the family. The picture gallery was added later through the energies of Canon Rawnsley. It opened in July 1907.
The local history collection stretches back to Roman times, and includes such items as the famous 700 year old cat, a penny farthing cycle, and a man trap. One of the prime exhibits is a set of musical stones (below), variously termed the stone dulcimer, the rock harmonicon or the geological piano. It has travelled to London where performances were given to Queen Victoria.
Keswick Museum musical stones
The 700 year old cat – found in the ancient church at Clifton, near Penrith. It was discovered in the chancel roof space during building work in 1842, and it is believed that it was placed there deliberately when the church was built 700 years ago. Noone is sure why.
The 700 year old cat at Keswick Museum
There is Flintof’s relief model of the Lake District, made in 1834 and covering 1200 sq miles at a scale of three inches to the mile, showing fells and valleys, rivers and roads. There is also a fine collection of rocks, minerals and insects.
The exhibit much loved by gruesome small boys and girls over the generations – an ancient mummified cat, known locally as the ‘extremely dead cat’, could possibly be one of the best ways ever discovered. short of dinosaurs, to get a 6 year old boy interested in local museums.

Exhibition – British Women Climb

The exhibition will run from 29th September 2017-16th September 2018.
The Mountain Heritage Trust are pleased to announce that their new British Women Climb exhibition will open at Keswick Museum on the 29th September 2017. From pioneering travellers, to bold adventurers and elite athletes; the exhibition focuses on the experiences of women climbers, their challenges to social expectations, and their mountaineering achievements across history.
Early female figures in the 1800’s not only confronted extreme mountain environments, but also extensive hostility from the male-only clubs of the time. Through continued persistence they broke onto the scene and logged some of the most ambitious ascents of the period, paving the way for all-female climbing teams that tackled Europe’s highest peaks in the 1920’s and Himalayan expeditions as early as 1950.
To climb, women had to change attitudes across the social spectrum, challenging everything from the way they dressed, to the way they were perceived. The first female ascent of Mont Blanc in 1808 was soon followed with the Eiger and Matterhorn in 1864 and 1871. By the early 20th century Elizabeth Le Blond, Emily ‘Pat’ Kelly and Eleanor Winthrop Young were founding the first all-female climbing clubs.
The exhibition includes an exciting range of historic artefacts: Lake District icon Mabel Barker’s rope and boots, original Ladies’ Alpine Club artefacts, and loans from the Fell and Rock Climbing Club , the Pinnacle Club  and world bouldering champion, Shauna Coxsey.

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