The Hamilton Kerr Institute was established in 1976, in response to recommendations by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in its report on Training in the Conservation of Paintings published in 1972, with grants from the Baring Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Trust, the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Isaac Wolfson Foundation, the Monument Trust, and the Pilgrim Trust.
The Hamilton Kerr Institute is situated in the riverside property which was given to the University of Cambridge for the Fitzwilliam Museum by the late Sir Hamilton Kerr, Bart, MP. Situated at the edge of the village of Whittlesford, 7 miles south of Cambridge, it stands in extensive grounds bordering the Cam.
The premises consist of a mid-eighteenth century house and converted mill buildings, containing offices and a scientific laboratory, restoration studios, studios for panel treatment and the relining of canvases, and studios for photography and x-radiography. The Institute's Library contains technical and art-historical books, archives, photographs and slides.
The Hamilton Kerr Institute's London Studio was established in 1980 under the direction of Herbert Lank. Students work there on attachment for short periods under the direction of Simon Bobak and Anna Sanden.