Haslemere Educational Museum
Culture & Learning Since 1888
About Us

Haslemere Museum

Situated in Southwest Surrey near the Hampshire and West Sussex borders. With over 240,000 Natural History specimens, along with over 140,000 Human History artefacts from around the World.

There are three large permanent galleries and two temporary exhibition rooms, with a library, archive and a dedicated education room for people of all ages.

The grounds cover an area of over 15,000 sq metres, with a large pond and gazebo, an observation beehive and a tree trail that follows the Museum's boundary through an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. National Trust land is nearby for long or short walks in the countryside.

Educating People Since 1888

The Museum is independent and relies on the financial support of visitors and members. This Museum was made possible because of Museum Founder Sir Jonathan Hutchinson and Eminent Victorian Geologist Sir Archibald Geikie.

The History of the Museum

In the late Victorian era Sir Jonathan Hutchinson collected a number of botanical, geological and social history curiosities from around the world and in 1888 founded a small private museum in his garden in Inval for the local people of Haslemere. He established a revolutionary new role for museums by emphasising the importance of education for everyone. He encouraged the open display of artefacts and believed that people could learn as much through their hands as their eyes. This was in great contrast to other museums, which at the time had their cases sealed and display "Do Not Touch" signs in the galleries. Later he created a museum exam for the local children and hoped this would encourage observation, reading and discussions.

Sir Jonathan Hutchinson
Sir Jonathan Hutchinson (1828 – 1913)
(Knighted 1908)

Sir Jonathan Hutchinson was a famous Quaker surgeon. He was a successful and respected member of the medical profession. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, he was President of the Hunterian Society, the Pathological Society and the Ophthalmological Society as well as Professor of Surgery and Pathology in the Royal College of Surgeons.

His study was of the whole of medicine and he established an enormous and well earned reputation as a teacher.

Throughout the early years of the Museum Hutchinson gave regular lessons and practical demonstrations using his unique collection of artefacts and in just a few years became so popular he had to move to larger premises nearer the centre of Haslemere. In 1897 he appointed the museum's first curator, Mr E. W. Swanton, who was responsible for much of the Museum's character and introduced living specimens into the Museum.

In 1926 the Museum moved to its current location on the High Street and received the European Folk Art collection of the Peasant Arts Museum which had also been located in the town. The Museum became a place of local scientific research with residential field courses. It grow into an important centre for adult education and offered a school loan service from 1951, enabling schools to borrow duplicates from the collection. This practice continues today.

Today Haslemere Educational Museum is one of the largest Museums in central southern England with over 240,000 Natural History specimens, along with over 140,000 Human History artefacts from around the world. There are three large permanent galleries for Geology, Natural History and Human History artefacts, also with two temporary exhibition rooms, a library and a dedicated education room for people of all ages.