The museum occupies the renovated and converted manager's villa built in 1916, and used as a residence for the manager of the Grytvikenwhaling base and his family, until the base closed in 1964. The South Georgia Museum was established in 1991 as a specialised whaling museum, subsequently expanding its expositions to include all aspects of the discovery of the island, sealing industry, maritime and natural history, as well as the 1982 Falklands war.
The museum has become a popular tourist venue, visited by cruise ship or yacht tourists. For several years Tim and Pauline Carr served as museum curators, living on board their yacht Curlew moored in the Grytviken port. The museum is now managed by the South Georgia Heritage Trust.