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Armitt Museum

Who are we, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopaedia; a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly reshuffled and reordered in every conceivable way.

 (Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium)

The Armitt is a unique combination of museum, library and gallery devoted to preserving and sharing the cultural heritage of the Lake District.

Mary Louisa Armitt founded the Library to foster an exchange of ideas in the local community. The Library opened in 1912. More than a century later, we continue to support the spirit of enquiry in all that we do.

Beatrix Potter was one of the Armitt’s early supporters, and our collection holds a number of her family’s books as well as her personal first editions of the ‘little’ books. Her major gift however came in the form of a large number of exquisite botanical watercolours. At the centre of our exhibition ‘Beatrix Potter, Image and Reality’, these works reveal fascinating and lesser-known aspects of her life story.

Today, the Armitt is proud to house one of the country’s most important collections of artwork by Kurt Schwitters, who influenced the development of twentieth-century art and lived in Ambleside during his final years. In early 2016, generous support from the V&A Purchase Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the Friends of the Armitt, and local donors allowed us to acquire a further five wonderful Schwitters paintings from his Ambleside years. All works are now on permanent display.

The Armitt Library and Museum Centre is a registered charity, number 1054762


Open throughout the year.

Summer Opening Hours (April-October)

Tuesday-Saturday 10.00am-5.00pm (last admission 4.30pm).

Winter Opening Hours (November-March)

Tuesday-Saturday 10.30am-4.00pm (last admission 3.30pm).


Adults £5.00
Concessions £4.50
Children (under 16) free

We are carrying out a consultation exercise on the updating of the organisational structure of the Armitt Museum and would be very interested in hearing your views on this.

The Armitt Library and Museum Centre is a unique combination of museum, library and gallery devoted to preserving and sharing the cultural heritage of the Lake District.
The Armitt currently has a dual structure. A charitable company limited by guarantee named the ‘Armitt Library and Museum Centre’ operates the Centre: the collection is held within a separate charitable trust known as ‘The Armitt Trust’.

The Trust is governed by a Scheme made by the Secretary of State for Education and Science dated 31 May 1973, as amended by a Scheme of the Charity Commission dated 31 January 1983.The Trust holds a substantial collection of books, artworks and other items, which have been acquired over time. The Company was established in 1996 and constructed a new building for the Centre which was completed in 1997. The Company has therefore assumed a greater role in relation to management of the collection which was originally envisaged. A point has now been reached where the trustees of the Company and the trustees of the Trust have determined that the structure should be more integrated and there is no benefit to the Trust or Company in having separate boards of trustees/directors. A number of other disadvantages have been identified with the current structure, including the risk of misunderstandings arising from the division of responsibility between the Trust and the Company and the difficulties in managing the collection to keep within the current museum guidelines. It is also inefficient for both the Trust and Company to have to keep separate records, prepare separate accounts and annual returns and have separate sets of Trustees/Directors for a relatively small organisation.

The trustees of the Trust and Company have therefore decided that the best way to achieve greater integration would be for the Company to become the sole corporate trustee of the Trust and for the Trust and Company to be linked for registration and accounting purposes. This change will streamline governance arrangements because all decisions can be taken at board meetings of the trustees of the Company and it will also simplify administration and save costs because the collection can be accounted for in the accounts of the Company. As an additional benefit, this structure will reduce the risks associated with personal individual trustee liability, as the Trust will no longer have individual trustees.
We think this administrative change is necessary and please do let us know your views on by 29th August 2019.