The Ruskin Museum, Coniston, Cumbria

The Ruskin Museum

Telling the Story of Coniston Since 1901

Tel: 01539 441164

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Arranging patches of colour, just as Ruskin described

The Ruskin Museum is proud to present:

Arranging Patches of Colour, an exhibition of paintings by Eden-based artist, David Boyd. Running from 25th May to 4th June 2019 in the Dawson Gallery

The title of the exhibition, Arranging patches of colour, is inspired by a quote from John Ruskin himself: “Everything that you can see in the world around you presents itself to your eyes only as an arrangement of patches of different colours.” 

Featuring over 25 different works, the exhibition focuses on David's latest paintings and drawings including new plein air paintings of the Eden Valley, North Lakes and Pennine landscapes.  These will sit alongside a new series of studio paintings of animals and birds, all oversized and corpulent, with farm animals positioned on to David’s landscapes with little regard to scale or perspective, even appearing to stand on small rural houses.

“This series is inspired by early 19th century British rural art,” says David. “It was a time when a farmer’s hottest status symbol would be a proud profile portrait of a champion cow or tup, and the livestock looked surprisingly geometric. I’ve tried to interpret that from today’s perspective.”

In contrast to the landscapes and animal paintings, Arranging patches of colour will also feature a selection of café culture-inspired pieces. “I enjoy drawing people when I’m out and about,” explains David, “and I try to capture this modern day interior landscape, depicting people on their mobile phones and tablets or smokers outside a cafe window. It’s something we all see all the time but I am hoping that people might begin to see it differently once they’ve considered the pictures in this exhibition.”

During the exhibition, there will be several afternoon drawing workshops. Please enquire to The Ruskin Museum (01539 441164) or Vicki Boyd (01768 870850) for details of exact dates and times.

Further information about David Boyd’s work is available online at and on social media including Instagram @drydenboydartist.

Ruskin's Mountains - Workshop Series 2019

Ruskin's Mountains - Workshop Series 2019

Thursday 16 May - Create an armful of poetic sketches

Thursday 6 June - Sunsets and Dreams


  • The Ruskin Museum
  • Day Classes Once A Month - 9.30am to 3.30pm
  • No previous experience necessary.
  • All materials, refreshments and a wholesome lunch will be provided.
  • £65 per head, per workshop.
  • Please reserve your place in advance, as spaces are limited.

Contact Celia at or on 07799 627 804.

Download the Ruskin's Mountains - Workshop Series 2019 leaflet.

Statement from The Trustees

When the wreckage of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 (‘Bluebird’) was handed over to Bill Smith, it was done with the express understanding that the restored Bluebird would be returned to Coniston to be put on permanent display for the public to view.  In 2006 a Deed of Gift was signed, donating Bluebird K7 to the Ruskin museum.

To house Bluebird, £800,000 was raised from a large number of donors – comprising businesses, charitable trusts and individuals – to build a new wing at the Ruskin museum which was completed in 2010.  We have an obligation to all those who donated to ensure that Bluebird is returned to Coniston.

We, like many others, would love to see Bluebird run again on Coniston Water.   Coniston is one of the busiest lakes in England, so prior to any runs the security and integrity of the craft, operator safety and community impact implications must be fully considered, and risk assessed.

As Custodians and Trustees of the museum (a registered charity) our obligations are to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ one of the most iconic boats in British history for the benefit of the public.

What Bill Smith and his team of volunteers have achieved is remarkable.   Our duty as an accredited museum is to ensure that Bluebird can be shown off to all who want to see her and learn about her exceptional story.

Donald Campbell is known to have said “skipper and boat stay together.”   Returning Bluebird to Coniston where Campbell is buried will ensure, as best we can, that those wishes are fulfilled.

The Coniston Institute and Ruskin Museum Trust

The Ruskin Museum receives FULL ACCREDITATION STATUS

The Ruskin Museum, Coniston is very proud and delighted to announce that following its recent Arts Council England Accreditation Review, the continuation of the Museum’s Full Accreditation Status has been confirmed.

Staff are delighted to have secured this accolade, the British ‘Gold’ Standard for Museums, which involved professional peer assessment of the Museum’s purpose, vision, collections care and management, environmental monitoring, visitor experience and satisfaction levels, interpretation and learning, and financial sustainability.

The Ruskin Museum receives FULL ACCREDITATION STATUS

The Museum Team and Trustees have all worked exceptionally hard to make this happen and were overjoyed when the news came through. Mary Ann Lancaster, Museum Curator said "We have a wonderful team at the Ruskin Museum. Full accreditation, and this award is never down to just one or two people but to months and years of continued hard work by the whole team, working together, working in partnership, giving of their best and always aiming high. We have now joined an illustrious group alongside, locally, Tullie House Museum & Arts Trust, Lakeland Arts Trust, and Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage & Museum, and nationally the British Museum and the V & A”.

Mary Ann joined the team in October 2018 as Joint Curator with Vicky Slowe, Museum Director, and has been largely responsible for submitting the ‘comprehensive documentation’ required. Vicky praised her for the enthusiasm and professional skills throughout the process.

Vicky went on to explain that ‘the Ruskin Museum’s redevelopment scheme in the late 1990s aimed to meet the best standards of collections care, and we were delighted to be awarded full registration in 1999. That status has been reviewed regularly since and we are now very pleased that through our ongoing endeavour the latest review has resulted in Full Accreditation. The Arts Council England Accreditation Panel stated that “Full Accreditation is very well deserved”’.

Anne Hall MBE, Chairman of the Coniston Institute and Ruskin Museum Trust offered her grateful thanks to all the members of staff along with the Trustees for all the hard work they put into ‘our local museum’. “We are so very proud this work has been recognised by Arts Council England”.

The Ruskin Museum would like to thank the Arts Council England Accreditation Team and Museum Development North West for their continued support and confidence in the Museum.

The Ruskin Museum set in the heart of Coniston is full of fascinating displays telling the many stories of Coniston. This small Lake District Village has lots of heritage to share. Visitors will discover the history of the Village, its diverse industrial heritage including copper mining, slate quarrying, farming and lace making, its famous Coniston Heroes: John Ruskin; Donald Campbell; Arthur Ransome and of course James Hewitson Coniston’s very own VC, plus lots, lots more. The Museum is open every day until mid-November from 10am with last entry 4.30pm.

Statement by the Bluebird Event Working Group

27th August 2018

We wholeheartedly congratulate Bill Smith and the Bluebird K7 project team on the huge success of Bluebird K7’s tests on Loch Fad. This is a shining example of the continuing greatness of British engineering.

We fully understand the decision for Bluebird K7 to have its initial trials on Loch Fad for floatation trials and crew training to be tested in a controlled environment.

In 2006 the Ruskin Museum was gifted the recovered Bluebird K7 and built an extension specifically to house the hydroplane which was opened in 2008 at a cost of £700,000.

Coniston is ready for the return of Bluebird K7 now it is once again a living breathing machine. We're passionate about seeing Bluebird K7’s return to Coniston to be seen up close in the museum and on Coniston Water so she can be enjoyed by all those who visit the area. In 2010 the Coniston Water Byelaws were amended so that trials and demonstration runs can take place – and we look forward to confirming dates with Bill and the Bluebird project team so these trials and demonstration runs can commence.

We're delighted that there is so much interest in Bluebird K7 from home and abroad and look forward to welcoming everyone to Coniston.

Donald Campbell frequently stated that the he and his boat should remain together. The Record Breaker was buried in Coniston’s cemetery on 12 September 2001, and his grave is a place of pilgrimage for people the world over.

About the Bluebird Event Working Group

Founded in 2016 and based in Coniston, the Bluebird Event Working Group includes members of Coniston Parish Council, Coniston Business Forum, Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), The Ruskin Museum and representatives from the community.

New Donald Campbell Learning Resource

A new downloadable learning resource for schools; "Donald Campbell: A Coniston Hero" aimed at KS1 & KS2, but also useful for KS3 & KS4 has been added to our Who Was Donald Campbell? page.

A Lego Bluebird K7!

A fabulous Lego Bluebird K7 made by Ben, aged 11, over the weekend following a family visit to The Ruskin Museum on 7th April 2016 has also been added to our Who Was Donald Campbell? page.

Cultural Guides Added to Education Page

Four brand new Cumbrian cultural guides have just been added to our Education Page:

Thank You For Your Positive Feedback

The Ruskin Museum has been awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for attractions that consistently achieve outstanding visitor feedback with an average of 4.5 out of 5. So thank you everyone who has left us positive feedback, it is very much appreciated.

The Ruskin Museum is also proud to have recieved the Britain's Finest Quality Stamp for top visitor attractions.