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