The Ruskin Museum, Coniston, Cumbria

The Ruskin Museum

Telling the Story of Coniston Since 1901

Tel: 01539 441164

Opening Times and Find the Ruskin Museum


The Ruskin Museum has a great deal to offer students of all ages. The setting of Coniston
and environs, wedged as it is between lake and mountains, and being a great example of a rural community which also caters for tourism, gives great scope for rich learning opportunities.

Junior Schools from towns and cities in the North-West have continuously used the Museum as a resource for work on CONTRASTING LOCALITIES. They compare the history and geography of their own locality with that of Coniston. This includes bringing out the differences in land use; development; housing; transport; facilities; population; occupations and the like. While there exists a wealth of information in the Museum itself to inform such a study, the museum also offers GUIDED WALKS as part of the school visit.

The advantages of a walk around the village are:

  • The students see a living village in action;
  • Things explained in the Museum (eg geology) are viewed in situ;
  • From the 'Banks' – a hillside only a short distance away – the students can look down on a 'map' of the whole village, including the lake, as it is laid out in front of them;
  • It is a meaningful experience, displaying all the benefits of outreach.

The Museum is used by Secondary school students as part of their ART learning; there are wonderful examples of architectural, still life and landscape sketches which John Ruskin executed, within the Ruskin Gallery. These are used to inspire the students and encourage them to develop their own artistic skills. By appreciating Ruskin's special engagement with the outside world, the students can then pursue similar projects on local field trips.

Two comics, How to be Rich and How to See written by Kevin Jackson and drawn by Hunt Emerson, give perceptive contemporary insights into Ruskin’s ideas. Both are available in the Museum shop.

Ruskin’s passion for stone, for geology, resulted in a rich collection of crystals and minerals, a study of mountain structures and details of rock formations, and a fascination with the carved stone of Gothic architecture. It also took an unusual turn when he discovered that some stone can be struck to resonate musically. He commissioned a Rock Band from the till family, of Keswick. This lithophone or ‘stone dulcimer’ is in the Museum. A cross-curricular resource, Musical Stones, and accompanying notes for teachers, can be downloaded from this website.

There is great scope for GEOLOGY studies linked to Ruskin Museum. Universities and Colleges have used the Museum as a resource to enhance field trips to the area. The British Geological Survey helped produce the Geology displays in the Museum, a Geological map of the Coniston Fells and also some self-guided walks which students and other interested parties can use to understand more of what Coniston has to offer in terms of rocks and landscape. These are on sale in the Museum.

The Cumbria Amenity Trust [CAT] Mining History Society has produced self-guided walk leaflets covering the Coniston Copper Mines Valley and Slate Quarrying Sites. These are on sale in the Museum shop. And there is a CD-ROM available to explore the Copper Mines both above and below ground.

The Museum provides other Outreach; for example:

  • A Guided Walk round Coniston, including the Lake side, devoted to the story of Donald Campbell, bringing it right up to date with the restoration of Bluebird K7;
  • A self-guided walk (produced by the Museum) which offers the same insights into the story with the help of local landmarks;
  • A Museum-produced self-guided walk over the Yewdale Fells In the footsteps of John Ruskin, which enhances the life and work of the man in terms of the locality;
  • A Coniston Notebook aimed at families and young people, which takes them on a multi-sensory journey between The Ruskin Museum and Ruskin’s home Brantwood. This can be purchased in the Museum shop, or downloaded from this website. The intention is to inspire users to develop their own illustrated ‘journey’ between places of interest on home ground, perhaps at different times of year, or to collate an illustrated ‘journal’ of a holiday.

Because of the Centenary of the First World War, the Museum's information about local people's involvement in both Wars has provoked great interest with all visitors. This is ripe for future development.

Educational opportunities for the future with regard to the Museum will include:

  • Science and Engineering, Technology and Maths for students with the return of Bluebird K7;
  • Apps to be produced which will provide students and visitors alike with channelled information;
  • Other Educational material which can be downloaded from the Website.

Donald Campbell: A Coniston Hero - Learning Resource

A new downloadable learning resource for schools, aimed at KS1 & KS2, but also useful for KS3 & KS4

Other Educational Downloads

Cultural Guides

Please click to download...