The Georgian House and its History

For more than half-a-century Abbot Hall Art Gallery has built up an outstanding collection and a strong reputation for showing exhibitions of national and international artists.

Abbot Hall was originally designed as an opulent house by architect John Carr of York in 1759 for Colonel George Wilson of Dallam Tower.

Recognised as Kendal's finest building, it was lived in by a succession of different families over the next century and purchased by the Kendal Corporation in 1896 for £3,750.

Together with the Castle and the Parish Church, Abbot Hall was the only Grade I listed building in Kendal.

By the 1950s it was almost derelict and threatened with demolition until a group of local people formed a charitable trust and raised money to save it.

It opened as a public art gallery in 1962.

Today Kendal’s finest historic house is an award winning art gallery.  

Our exhibitions showcase a variety of works by a wealth of international artists.

In early 2018 the gallery showed off work by Claude Monet, and in the summer was set to stage exhibitions of Auguste Rodin and Elisabeth Frink. 

In the next few years the gallery is set to undergo a major redevelopment along with the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry and surrounding estate in Kendal.

It has been 30 years since the last major development, and it is in need of significant modernisation.

The rejuvenation of this riverside site will realise the full potential of our collections and develop a world-class cultural experience for visitors.

The redevelopment is integral to the delivery of wider local and regional strategies in an area newly established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The total cost of the project is £7.1m and we are aiming to raise £2.1m match funding to secure all the Arts Council England investment and relaunch Abbot Hall in 2022, its 60th anniversary year.

More details on the redevelopment plans

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