About the Cuming Museum

The Cuming Museum comprises the worldwide and local collections of the Cuming family, an extensive art collection as well as local and social history object collected since the early 19th century right up to today, reflecting Southwark’s rich and diverse history and its unfolding story.

Richard Cuming, and his son Henry Syer Cuming, had a passion for collecting. They lived in Walworth and Kennington during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Between them they acquired all kinds of objects from around the world – from clothing worn by North American Inuit people, early taxidermy from Europe and shoes from across Africa to superstitious charms from across London or tickets and toys from local fairs.  Henry died in 1902 and left funds in his will to create a public museum to house his family’s collection. The Cuming Museum first opened in 1906 in galleries above Newington Library on Walworth Road.

The museum opened new public spaces on the ground floor of the next door Walworth Town Hall in 2006. The changing exhibition space and activity room housed regular events and exhibitions plus two permanent displays showed key items from the collections. Sadly a fire in 2013 badly damaged this building and the museum is currently closed to general visitors. However, we welcome research enquiries about the collections and you can explore the online collections to uncover local, unusual and ancient artefacts. New premises showcasing the collections are under development.

Follow us on Twitter @swkheritage to stay up to date with the latest news and updates, and you can get in touch with any further queries via email or on the phone.

You can explore many items from the Cuming Museum collection online

Page last updated: 26 November 2020

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