Open House Festival

Kingston Library, Museum and Art Gallery

museum, library, gallery, online

Alfred Cox, 1903

Wheatfield Way, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2PS

Adjoining Grade II listed Carnegie-funded library, museum and art gallery. Museum holdings range from ceramics to topographical drawings, including the collection left by Eadweard Muybridge, a native of Kingston and photographic pioneer.

Getting there



Additional travel info

Cattle Market car park nearby.





From the 1880s, many leading Kingston residents were in favour of establishing a library and a museum in the town. Kingston’s first public library was established in temporary accommodation in 1882 in St James’s Hall, a building in St James’s Road, before moving in 1891 to Clattern House at the south end of the Marketplace.

Kingston Council raised a loan to finance a purpose built library on the Fairfield in 1903. The council asked Scottish American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to fund part of the library’s construction. Carnegie generously offered to pay the entire amount, which enabled the council to use the loan to build a museum in addition to the library, which opened a year later in 1904.


Both the museum and library were designed by architect Alfred Cox, who aimed to make the layout simple and well lit. Architecturally they are built in the late 17th century ‘Wrenaissance’ style, so-called after the architecture of Christopher Wren and popular circa 1890-1914. Taken together they form a good early 20th century example of a public library, museum, and art gallery complex, surviving in continuous use.

The original layout of the main library area remains as does the essential plan of the museum. The museum has an imposing staircase with high-quality joinery, and a top-lit picture gallery complete with integral picture rails. The buildings retain original windows and stacks, as well as architectural stonework and terracotta.

Online presence


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