The Ruskin Museum (c) Paul Hermans
The Ruskin Museum

This small, award-winning museum tells the tale of Coniston's past, including the stories of the most famous names associated with the village; John Ruskin, Donald Campbell, and Arthur Ransome.

The museum was founded by Ruskin's friend and collaborator, artist WG Collingwood, in 1901. At that time the aim of the museum was to celebrate Ruskin's life and the cultural heritage of the Coniston region.

The core of the museum is therefore an extensive exhibition on the life and times of John Ruskin. Included are examples of Ruskin's writing and art, and collections of his personal belongings. Among the more fascinating of the exhibits is a rock harmonicum built by Ruskin. This odd musical instrument is like a large xylophone made with different sizes and shapes of stone. Ruskin spent the latter part of his life at Brantwood, across Coniston Lake from the village, and he knew and loved the area well.

In addition to the Ruskin exhibits, there are displays of local history, including prehistoric artefacts, the geology of Coniston Fell, and geography of the Coniston area. The role played by copper mining and slate quarrying in the region is explained, and there are tools and other articles associated with both occupations on display.

The Bluebird K7 exhibit
The Bluebird K7 exhibit

A newer addition to the museum is a section dedicated to the life of Donald Campbell, who lost his life while attempting to break the World Water Speed Record on Coniston Lake in 1967. Campbell visited Coniston on numerous occasions, and the exhibits outline his speed record attempts, his fatal crash, and the subsequent recovery of his body and the wreckage of his boat, the Bluebird K7. Several of Campbell's personal effects are on display, including his crash helmet and overalls. The jet engine that powered Bluebird K7 is also on display. Campbell's grave is a short walk from the museum in the new graveyard of St Andrew's church.

There is also a small exhibit area dedicated to Arthur Ransome, author of the popular Swallows and Amazon series of books. Ransome knew and loved Coniston, and many of his stories were set in and around Coniston Lake. At the time of this writing, the Ruskin Museum is temporary home to 'Mavis', the original 'Amazon' of Ransome's books.

There is also a small upstairs gallery of local art and crafts by local artisans. All in all, the Ruskin Museum makes for a very enjoyable visititor experience.

About Ruskin Museum, Coniston
Address: Coniston, Lake District, Cumbria, England, LA21 8DU
Attraction Type: Museum
Location: Located just off the High Street in the centre of Coniston. Limited on street parking, but also large paid parking lot nearby.
Website: Ruskin Museum, Coniston
Phone: 015394 41164
Location map
OS: SD302976
Photo Credit: Paul Hermans, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence

Best of Britain Express Art Prints


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Steam Yacht Gondola - 0.5 miles (Family Attraction) Heritage Rating

Coniston Water - 1.7 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Old Man of Coniston - 1.8 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Tom Gill - 1.9 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Brantwood - 2 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Tarn Hows - 2 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Grizedale Forest Park - 3 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Hawkshead Old Courthouse - 3 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

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