This wonderful museum was founded by Harold Ede, former curator of London’s Tate Gallery in the 1920s and 30s. He befriended many young artists at the time, including Ben and Winifred Nicholsobn, Henry Moore etc, and through them he began collecting works by their contemporaries such as Henri Gaudier-Brzseska, Joan Miro and others.
Ede married Helen Schlapp in 1921, and took early retirement in 1936, when the couple travelled before settling in Cambridge, seeking a house suitable for their collection of art, furniture and natural objects. They believed art should be part of ordinary life. They bought 4 dilapidated cottages, which with the help of architect Ronald Aldrige, adapted for the display of objects. The alterations were completed in 1957, and for the following 16 years the couple lived there, opening it to the public on weekday afternoons.
The house was donated in 1966 to the University of Cambridge, and they lived there till they retired to Edinburgh in 1973. By the time they left, several extensions were made, for changing exhibitions. Kettles Yard continues the routine of the Edes, with the addition of music, education and art programmes. It still has the feel of a living home, with visitors invited to sit on chairs to fully appreciate the clever arrangement of many of the objects, which are carefully arranged to co-ordinate with each other and the space itself.