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 want to take inspiration from the wonderful collections which we have inherited, and use 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 will create a beautiful new space for activities and local events.

We have had a wonderful stroke of good fortune as we start out, with the recruitment of our Project Lead, Jane Allen. Jane 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 Cemetary in Willesden, as well as new exhibition and display spaces in the crypt at Rochester Cathedral

The new Museum will be 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.

The design work has begun and our Curator Dr Pamela Greenwood, and her curatorial and conservation team, are clearing all the objects out of the museum and safely into storage.

It will cost about £180,000 to design and build a new museum with audio visual displays, and conservation grade cases for some of our most precious treasures. Ideally we would like to raise a bit extra to reroute some heating pipes and  insulate the ceiling.

The Wimbledon Society has provided £85,000 for the project, and a very successful fundraising event raised another £4,000. The Wimbledon Foundation, the charity of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, has generously provided £5500. We launched our first appeals to individuals in December, and so far we have raised about £40,000, including Gift Aid.

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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Our Collections

Our treasured collections relate to life in Wimbledon from about 500,000 years ago right up to the present.

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Choose from a wide selection of publications cataloguing Wimbledon’s rich and vibrant history.