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What Is the Barnet Museum?

By A. Gamm
Updated: May 23, 2024

Barnet Museum is one of the more well-known local community British museums in London. It opened in 1938 to showcase the large collection of artifacts from the Barnet District and Local History Society. The museum reveals the growth and development of the surrounding area from medieval time to 2011. Although it is a small museum, it holds great significance to not only many of the local people but also many others in Greater London and Herfordshire.

The Barnet Museum opened in March 1938 in an early Georgian House on Wood Street in Chipping Barnet. Much of the artifacts in the museum are focused solely on the rich history of Chipping Barnet, but also include information and exhibits on the surrounding area. This museum includes the areas of East and West Barnet, Arkley, Whetstone, Cockfosters, Totteridge and Hadley.

Although the area is small and relatively quiet as of 2011, Chipping Barnet was a busy area famous for its markets and fairs. It holds what is known as the Great North Road, which lead to many coaching inns that frequently held visitors from across the country. As it was along a busy area, many famous people frequently stayed in Chipping Barnet including the royal family, Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens. An important battle in the War of the Roses was also held in Barnet in 1471. Much of this created a wide array of photographs, paintings and objects of interest and historical significance which is, as of 2011, contained in the Barnet Museum.

A wide array of items is stored in the museum. Photographs, various objects, domestic items, prints, paintings, general archives, maps, lace and clothing make up the large part of the museum. There is also a collection of period costumes and accessories that represent the ever-changing fashion of the local area. The museum also contained information to help people trace their family history. It took the Barnet Museum and the Barnet District and Local History Society nearly 80 years to complete the collection that is available in the museum in 2011.

Barnet Museum also attempts to give back to the local community through its published works including books, articles and newsletters. It was proposed by the Barnet Council, however, that funding be withdrawn from the museum in April 2011. A petition that spread online and around London helped to keep the museum open as of September 2011.

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