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.