The History of the MuseumSir Jonathan Hutchinson was a famous Quaker surgeon. In the 1860s he came to Haslemere and fell in love with the town.
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In 1888 Hutchinson formed a private museum in his garden barn based around botany, geology and social history. He established a revolutionary new role for museums by emphasising the importance of education for everyone. Haslemere Museum was one of the very first museums to include children.
Hutchinson encouraged the open display of artefacts. He believed that people could learn as much through their hands as their eyes. This was in great contrast to other museums with their sealed cases and "do not touch" signs.
Hutchinson gave regular lessons and practical demonstrations. His Sunday lectures were so popular that in 1895 the museum moved to larger premises in Haslemere on Museum Hill. A Museum Examination was established for local children in 1899. It was hoped that this would encourage observation, reading and discussion.
In 1926 the museum moved to its current location at the end of the High Street. The museum was flooded with visitors during both the World Wars. A high percentage of these visitors were soldiers.
Mr E.W. Swanton was curator of Haslemere museum from 1897 to 1948 and he is responsible for much of the museum´s character. Living specimens were welcomed into the museum´s collection and a great deal of scientific research took place.
Arthur Jewell first came to Haslemere Museum in 1949 as Assistant Curator to John Clegg. He went on to become curator and he continued a tradition of pioneering educational work. A series of residential field courses were held at Haslemere for adult students. The museum became an important centre for adult education. A School Loan Service started in 1951 enabling schools to borrow duplicate items from the museum. This practice is continued today.
Today Haslemere Educational Museum is one of the largest Natural History Museums in central southern England with over 240,000 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 three temporary exhibition rooms, a library and a dedicated education room for people of all ages.