The collection was established as the Keswick Museum of Local and Natural History, a creation of the Keswick Literary and Scientific Society, in The Moot Hall, in 1873. An important item in the original collection at the Moot Hall was a three-dimensional model of the Lake District, measuring 12 feet by 9 feet, made by Joseph and James Flintoft in 1837.
The collection moved to purpose-built facilities, in Fitz Park, constructed as a memorial to the Hewetson brothers, distinguished Keswick benefactors, in 1897. Cannon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of founders of the National Trust, attended the opening of the art gallery at the museum, in 1906.
The Fitz Park Trust got into financial difficulties and the collection was rescued by Allerdale Council in April 1994. Then, in February 2007, Keswick Museum and Art Gallery Management Limited was formed to operate the museum on behalf of the council as the sole trustee.
The museum has a collection of about 20,000 objects, of which 5-10% are on display. While these include material relating to the whole of north Cumbria, the museum now only collects items from the Derwent Seven Parishes, approximately the CA12 postcode area.
The collection includes artifacts from Keswick's landscape, history and culture as well as the three-dimensional model made by Joseph and James Flintoft. It also includes The Musical Stones of Skiddaw, a number of lithophones built across two centuries around the town of Keswick using hornfels, a stone from the nearby Skiddaw mountain, which is said to have a superior tone and longer ring than the more commonly used slate.
Meanwhile, the Hugh Walpole Collection includes manuscripts of all the Herries novels by Hugh Walpole (four novels set in the Lake District) and letters to Walpole from 13 leading English writers. Also included are a teacup once owned by Napoleon, a mummified cat and a man-trap for catching poachers.
- "Moot Hall". Lake District National Park. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- "Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley (1851-1920)". Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery: Collections Development Policy" (PDF). Allerdale Council. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- Source: Short history of Keswick Museum given as handout to visitors
- "Keswick Museum to shut for a year for £2m refurbishment". BBC News. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "New beginning for Keswick museum". The Cumberland News. 23 May 2014. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
- "Keswick Museum reopens after £2m refurbishment". BBC News. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
- "Our Collections". Keswick Museum. Keswick Museum.
- "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery (leaflet)" (PDF). Daysoutinfo.co.uk. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
- "The Skiddaw Stones". Soniccouture. Soniccouture Sound Design Ltd. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Hart-Davis, Rupert (1998). Halfway to Heaven: Concluding memoirs of a Literary Life. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton. ISBN 0750918373.
- "Keswick Museum". Crazy Tourist. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- "Annual Report 2018/19". Mountain Heritage Trust. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
- "Mountain Heritage Trust". Keswick Museum. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
- Official website
- The Museum's official Facebook page
- "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery (leaflet)" (PDF). Daysoutinfo.co.uk. Retrieved 17 October 2014. The Museum's 2014 information leaflet
- Description of the collections on Allerdale Borough Council website
- Paintings at Keswick Museum, on the Art UK site Illustrates 44 works
- "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, registered charity no. 1088956". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
- "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery Management Ltd, registered charity no. 1156330". Charity Commission for England and Wales.