The Armitt museum, gallery and reference library was established in Ambleside in 1912 to “foster an exchange of ideas in the local community”. Today, it continues to tell the story of both the town and the surrounding Lake District. The reference library contains books and manuscripts donated by authors such as Arthur Ransome, Harriet Martineau and Beatrix Potter. When she died in 1943, the latter also left her large collection of watercolours to The Armitt. Covering fungi, natural history and archaeology, these meticulous works are on permanent display in the museum on Rydal Road, just inside the entrance to the university campus.
Visitors to The Armitt will also find an important collection by German artist Kurt Schwitters. Forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1938, he spent the last three years of his life in Ambleside.
Among the photographic collections are images and glass plates created by the Abraham brothers, whose work includes some of the earliest photos of rock climbers.