The museum explores the history of the Lake District and its inhabitants.
Before the arrival of the railway and motorcar the Lake District was completely isolated, and the community developed its own unique customs and traditions.
The museum uses recreated period rooms to reveal how rural people lived and worked, and to show how different life was before the introduction of machinery. Examples include a kitchen complete with traditional recipes and utensils, a bedroom furnished with a 17th century four-poster bed and a farmhouse parlour with a working phonograph.
Items in the collection are used to trace the Arts and Crafts Movement in the local area, with examples of metalwork by the Keswick School of Industrial Art, woodwork by Simpsons of Kendal and textiles from Annie Garnett’s famous workshop, The Spinnery. There are also samples of Langdale Linen and Ruskin lace.
Further highlights include original sketches and manuscripts from Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons, which are shown alongside souvenirs from the author's sailing adventures, as well as his personal photographs.