Founded in 1796 by the inveterate Victorian collector William Todhunter, this mixed-bag museum features everything from stuffed beasts and transfixed butterflies to medieval coin hoards. There's also a case of memorabilia which belonged to Alfred Wainwright, who served as honorary curator at the museum from 1945 to 1974: look out for his knapsack and well-chewed pipe.
It's a typically fascinating mix of Victorian ephemera. Wandering its echoey halls you'll glimpse everything from Roman coins to Egyptian scarabs, Iron Age swords and handmade model boats, while the Natural History Gallery is crammed with a spooky menagerie of stuffed animals, including a great bustard, a polar bear that once belonged to the Earl of Lonsdale and a thylacine, otherwise known as the Tasmanian tiger – one of only 12 known specimens in the UK.
There's also a large collection of rare rocks and minerals, based almost entirely on the enormous collection amassed by John Hamer, a local potholer and amateur mineralogist.