Wardown Park Museum, formerly the Luton Museum & Art Gallery in Luton, is housed in a large Victorian mansion in Wardown Park on the outskirts of the town centre. The museum collection focuses on the traditional crafts of Bedfordshire, notably lace-making and hat-making. There are samples of Bedfordshire lace from as early as the 17th century.
During WW1, the House was known as Wardown Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) Hospital. A full history of the House as a hospital is available here.
The Women's Hat Industry collection features over 600 hats in an extensive collection (the hats are in storage and can be viewed by prior arrangements with the museum). There are also extensive displays of decorative arts, including Saxon jewellery.
The first floor galleries were refurbished and opened as the Luton Life displays in February 2003. This was partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The museum displays explore stories of Luton people over the past 150 years. The galleries contain several listening posts where visitors are able to listen to local people telling their stories and describing key events. Additionally there are also several interactive displays as well as computer screens with historic photographs of Luton.
The ground floor displays include the Living Landscape gallery which displays local archaeology and natural history, including the Shillington Roman coin hoard and an Iron Age mirror,finds from Waulud's Bank are also on display.
The Lace Gallery displays some of the museum's extensive collection of locally produced lace work.
The museum holds around three to four temporary exhibitions each year in the temporary exhibition gallery on the ground floor.