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The Wimbledon Village Hall Trust has very generously agreed to carry out the base build works to the Museum Room. The work will include levelling the floor and redecorating. The trust has applied for the necessary listing building consent.  

Meanwhile, Philip Simpson’s design for the new Museum has been approved by the Wimbledon Society Board, and he is seeking tenders for the next stage, which is building the physical structure of the new displays. 

We have also begun planning audio visual displays for the museum, including a short film about the history of Wimbledon. 

Many of the objects which will be on display in the new museum need conservation work. Some of this can be done in house, by our wonderful team of volunteer curators and curatorial assistants. Some objects need more specialist care, and must be sent to specialist conservators.  

Fundraising continues in order to pay for the audio visuals and the conservation, and also to help meet the costs of a programme of events and activities for the reopening of the museum, and to continue thereafter. Our Engagement Group is busy planning this programme. We hope it will engage all the communities of Wimbledon. We want to welcome back old friends, and attract new visitors.

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.

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.

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. In addition, many of the objects which will be on display in the new museum will need conservation work, and we are also hoping to raise enough money for a programma of events and activities when the museum reopens.

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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