The new oak floor
Museum refurbishment underway

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The base build works in the museum are almost complete. They have been beautifully executed and the room looks wonderful. We are so grateful to the Village Hall Trust for organising and paying for the works, which were carried out under the supervision of local Architect Marcus Beale, who is an expert in working with historic buildings.

The floor has been levelled and beautiful new oak flooring laid. Extensive repairs have been carried out to the bay windows and the brickwork around them. The ceiling has been re-plastered and the room has been redecorated. It is an exquisite shell awaiting the arrival of the new cases and cabinets which are being made off site.

We are putting the final touches to the design of the interpretation panels, with last minute editing of text and researching of images. The custom made conservation cases have been ordered, and the contractor TMP will shortly begin construction of the other cases and cabinets, ready for installation over the summer.

After that there will have to be a period of “off gassing” before we can start putting our museum objects into the cases. This will allow gases from the construction materials, which might be harmful to the objects, to dissipate.

Meanwhile our Curator, Dr Pamela Greenwood, is planning the conservation work on the objects to be displayed, and our Engagement Group is working on a programme of activities to take place in the beautiful new Museum when it opens. We have been awarded a very generous CIL grant from Merton’s Neighbourhood Fund for these purposes.”

A twenty first century museum

Our lovely Museum has a long and distinguished history. It first opened its doors to the public in 1916. In those days it was known as The Wimbledon Museum, and, when we reopen after our refurbishment, we will return to that time honoured name. The origins of the museum lie even earlier: in 1863, when a distinguished local resident, Joseph Toynbee, published a small book called Hints on the Formation of Local Museums. He hoped to establish a local museum as one of the facilities offered by the Wimbledon Village Club, of which he was a founding member.

Toynbee’s untimely death meant he never made his dream museum a reality, but his book inspired Richardson Evans, one of the founders of the John Evelyn club (as the Wimbledon Society used to be known). He began to collect objects and artworks, and the Wimbledon Village Club offered a home to the museum he created, at 22 Ridgway, where it remains to this day.

So the museum has been a feature of Wimbledon life for more than a century, and over that period its fortunes have waxed and waned. It has always had a loyal core of volunteers and visitors, but it was last refurbished in 1993, and the displays no longer meet expectations of how a museum should look and feel in the 21st Century.

The refurbishment project

Now we have embarked on a project to recreate the museum, with entirely new displays. We have taken inspiration from the wonderful collections which we have inherited, and are using them to tell new stories which will appeal to young and old alike, and all the communities of Wimbledon and Merton. At the same time we are creating a beautiful new space for activities and local events.

Our Project Lead is Jane Allen who was in charge of heritage at Sutton Council.  She was responsible for the stunning Whitehall Historic House project in Cheam, and the creation of the Honeywood Museum in Carshalton. Having very recently retired, she has agreed to take on this role as a volunteer.

Our Project Manager is Jason Lowe of Conservation Plus, a firm of specialist heritage project managers, whose recent work includes the visitor centres at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, and The Jewish Cemetery in Willesden, as well as new exhibition and display spaces in the crypt at Rochester Cathedral

The new Museum has been designed by Philip Simpson of Philip Simpson Design, the designers on the Whitehall Historic House project, and at All Saints Church in Kingston.  He also works regularly for the British Museum.

We are so grateful for all the generous grants and donations we have received. Fundraising will continue to meet all the running costs of the Museum once it reopens, and to fund special features of the new displays, including, we hope, a film about the history of the museum. We will be maintaining our long and honourable tradition of Free Entry, and of course the Museum continues to be run entirely by Volunteers .

If you would like to find out more about the project, please send us an email at museuminfo@wimbledonsociety.org

If you would like to make a donation, please go to our Donate page

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