The Armitt holds a varied selection of artworks from the late eighteenth century to the twentieth century, of interest to its location in Ambleside and the Lake District. Among these include important works by Beatrix Potter - her early fungi and natural history watercolours – and a significant collection by the artist, Kurt Schwitters.
Beatrix Potter had an early interest in fungi and the natural world. During the 1880s–1890s, while on holiday to the Lake District and Scotland, she collected, analysed, and painted prolifically. In 1943, Beatrix bequeathed her collection to The Armitt where almost three hundred of these remain.
Kurt Schwitters, a German artist, came to Ambleside in 1945 as a refugee. Part of the pre-war avant-garde in Germany with a developing international reputation, he was denounced by the Nazis. After a flight to Norway and then Scotland, a year in internment and three years in war-torn London, he arrived in Ambleside. He lived and worked in Ambleside for three years until his death in 1948. Over the years his reputation has grown and continues to grow. Paintings in the collection include 'Dr Johnson', 'Silver Howe', and 'Wood on Wood'.