After John Ruskin’s death in 1900, his secretary WG Collingwood organised a memorial exhibition of his works which subsequently developed into a permanent Ruskin Museum. Although a large section of the museum is devoted to the life and works of Ruskin, there are plenty of other exhibits relating to Coniston’s history and heritage.
Exhibits include a collection of Stone and Bronze Age artefacts, plus displays about Arthur Ransome’s connections with the area, the geology of Coniston, and local industries such as sheep farming, dry stone walling, lacemaking, and copper mining.
The museum is also the best place to learn about the life of Donald Campbell. The world water speed record breaker died on Coniston Water in 1967 while making an attempt to break his own world record. His boat, the Bluebird K7, was recovered from the lake in 2001 and donated to the Ruskin Museum by his daughter. It is expected to be displayed in a new extension in 2012.
There are also a handful of interesting exhibits in the grounds of the museum. These include a dry stone wall, the John Usher Miniature Village, and an engine from a Royal Canadian Air Force Handley Page Halifax bomber that crashed in the area during World War II.
The Ruskin Museum is situated on Yewdale Road in the centre of the village, and opposite the fire station. It is open daily from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm between the beginning of March and the middle of November. During the winter opening hours are 10.30 am to 3.30 pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
Entry to the museum costs £5.25 for adults and £2.50 for children. Family tickets for up to 2 adults and 3 children cost £14. Children under 5 enjoy free admission.