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 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.
The 700 year old cat was 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. No one is sure why.
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.
Flintof’s relief model of the Lake District, made in 1834, covers 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.