The collections at this Grade I-listed building include portraits by George Romney and Daniel Gardner, watercolours and drawings by John Ruskin, and furniture by Gillows of Lancaster.
Abbot Hall was built in 1759 by Colonel George Wilson, whose family owned a large house and country estate nearby. In spite of the trouble and expense, it seems Wilson was displeased with his new home and he and his wife left after just a couple of years.
After passing through several other owners, the hall fell into disrepair and by the 1950s it was facing demolition. A group of local people came together to raise the money to save the Grade I-listed building, which they decided should be an art gallery.
Abbot Hall holds many fine examples of 18th- and 19th-century painting, as well as a substantial collection of work by Ruskin. Modern artists include German refugee Kurt Schwitters, who also had a local connection – spending his final years in the area – while contemporary works by Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Lucian Freud are also shown.
In 2018, 15 works by one of the great portrait painters, George Romney, were re-displayed with a revealing narrative on the inspiration behind some of the portraits. The display also features three sketchbooks by the artist - thought to be on show for the very first time.