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20 Curious And Quirky Museums To Visit In Cornwall

July 20, 2022

Museums To Visit In Cornwall

There are so many different museums to visit in Cornwall. We have by no means visited them all, and I am sure there are still ones I have yet to discover. Some of the museums are well known, others are tiny, niche and full of curiosities and quirky things. These are my favourite types of museum and are usually run by people with such passion and knowledge.

I've also included 2 archives which aren't exactly museums, but are a haven of history and local interest.


1. Tate St Ives

LOCATION MAP: Porthmeor Beach, St Ives TR26 1TG

Is the Tate St Ives a museum? I'm always being told it is, but to me it is more of an art gallery. There are some bits to it that are more museum like, and it does seem to like to call itself a museum AND gallery. So it is here on my list, as I live in St Ives and so it would be weird not to include it!

Opening Times
Open all year 10am to 5:20pm.

Prices
Adults: £10.50. Children under 18 go free.
Locals passes for £5 per year are available if you live in Cornwall. This will give you free entry into the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome. Drinking bowls are available for your dog - please ask a member of staff.

Parking
No designated museum parking. The closest car park is either Porthmeor Short Stay car park, or Barnoon Long Stay car park.

There is one parking bay for blue badge holders in Barnoon car park (free). You need to book your ticket and the space at the same time. Call 01736 791177 to organise this.

There is a lovely cafe at the top of the building, with views across the town and Porthmeor Beach.

Visit the Tate St Ives Website >>


2. Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

LOCATION MAP: Barnoon Hill, St Ives TR26 1AD

This is a little museum in the heart of St Ives which is like a little snapshot of Barbara Hepworths working life in her studio. The garden is beautiful and full of her incredibly sculptures.

Opening Times
Open all year 10am to 5:20pm

Prices
Adults: £7.00. Children under 18 go free.
Locals passes for £5 per year are available if you live in Cornwall. This will give you free entry into the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome

Parking
There is no designated museum parking. The closest car park is at Barnoon Long Stay Car Park.

Visit The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden Website >>


3. The Leach Pottery

LOCATION MAP: Higher Stennack, St Ives TR26 2HE

The Leach Pottery has a great little museum which outlines Bernard Leach's life and work. If you are interested in ceramics or the history of design, this is a must see!

Opening Times
Open all year 10am - 5pm (Sundays 11am - 4pm) but closed on Sunday during Winter. Open on bank holidays too.

Prices
Adults £8, children free with an adult.

Dogs
Well behaved dogs on a lead are welcome.

Parking
7 spaces and 2 disabled spaces only. You can also park at St John In The Field Church for £5.

Visit The Leach Pottery Website >>


4. St Ives Museum

LOCATION MAP: Wheal Dream, St Ives TR26 1PR

We love St Ives Museum. It is packed full of local historical artefacts all about the bygone age of St Ives. It isn't a sleek, trendy place, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a wonderful treasure trove of St Ives life.

Opening Times
Open April to October 10:30am to 4:30pm (3:30pm on Saturdays). Closed on Sundays.

Prices
£5 per adult, children go free.

Dogs
Dogs on a lead are welcome

Parking
There is no designated museum parking. There is a car park on Smeaton's Pier or on The Island in St Ives.

Visit The St Ives Museum Website >>


5. Porthmeor Studios and Cellars

LOCATION MAP: Back Rd W, St Ives TR26 1NL

Porthmeor Studios and Cellars are a working building, with artists working in the studios. There are any events held here throughout the year, especially in September at the St Ives September Festival where you can visit the studios and cellars. I've included it in my list as I've visited the cellars several times and they were amazing!

Opening Times
No set times.

Prices
Prices depend on the exhibitions but are often free.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

Parking
There is no designated parking. The closest car park is The Sloop or Porthmeor.

Visit The Porthmeor Studios and Cellars Website >>


6. St Ives Archive

LOCATION MAP: Wesley Methodist Church, St Ives Rd, Carbis Bay, Saint Ives TR26 2SF

St Ives Archive is an amazing group which maintains a local historical archive for the benefit and use of the public. It is staffed by volunteers and they have amassed a wonderful collection on every aspect of the town's unique history.

If you are interested in the history of St Ives, you must follow them on Facebook. They post the most amazing photos of old St Ives!

Opening Times
By apppointment only

Prices
Free - but donations are always welcome!

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

Parking
There is on street parking in the area but please respect the residents!

Visit The St Ives Archive Website >>


7. Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton Museum

LOCATION MAP: 28 Trenwith Pl, StIves TR26 1QD

This sounds like quite a bonkers museum which I will admit I have not yet visited. It is the world's only museum dedicated to Captain Sir Richard Franci Burton. It is run from Shanty Baba's private residence and has 28 exhibits, artefacts and a story installation. Apparently it is all quite amazing, quirky and interesting!

Opening Times
By appointment only in the evenings

Prices
Adults £8. Not suitable for children.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs only

Parking
The closest car park is Park Ave

Visit The Capt Sir Richard Francis Burton Museum Website >>


8. Hayle Heritage Centre

LOCATION MAP: John Harvey House, 24 Foundry Square, Hayle TR27 4HH

Hayle Heritage Centre promotes the rich social and industrial history of Hayle, from its early times as an Iron Age settlement through to its role as a major powerhouse of Victorian industry. They will also be running a programme of talks, walks and workshops through the year.

Opening Times
Open on Wednesdays, Friday and Saturdays during the Summer.

Prices
Free

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

Parking
There is a pay and display car park in The Foundry, or you can park in Asda, providing you shop there and don't overstay!

Visit The Hayle Heritage Website >>


9. Penlee House Gallery and Museum

LOCATION MAP: Morrab Rd, Penzance TR18 4HE

Built in 1865 as a gracious Victorian home, Penlee House has been converted to create a first class gallery and museum set within an attractive park. It is home to a great many paintings by members of the Newlyn School, including many by Stanhope Forbes, Norman Garstin, Walter Langley and Lamorna Birch.

Opening Times
Open all year with shorter hours in the Winter. Closed on Sundays.

Prices
Adults £6.00, young adults (18-26) £3.00. Under 18s go free.

Dogs
Dogs are welcome on leads within the park and on the terrace outside the cafe, but dogs are not permitted in the building. A water bowl is provided on the terrace.

Parking
There are 3 blue badge car parking spaces in the park. Otherwise there is the council car park by the Tennis Courts.

There is a lovely cafe attached and a brilliant play park in the grounds of Penlee Park.

Visit The Penlee House Gallery and Museum Website >>


10. Geevor Tin Mine Museum

LOCATION MAP: Pendeen, Penzance TR19 7EW

Geevor Tin Mine was still a working mine until 1990. It was once the site of the largest number of undersea tin and copper mines in the world with underground workings over 200 years old.

Today it is a family friendly, heritage attraction and museum. You can go underground to see what the mines are like, and also pan for gold.

Opening Times
Open Sunday to Thursday 9am to 5pm (closed Friday and Saturday).

Prices
Adult: £17.70 Child £9.90. Under 4s go free. There are a range of family and concession tickets available. Pay once with gift aid and you get a year's admission.

Dogs
Dogs are allowed everywhere expect underground. Guide and assistance dogs are allowed underground too. Drinking water is available at various places across the site.

Parking
There is a big car park that is free with entry.

There is a family run café on site making delicious homemade breakfasts, lunches and tasty treats.

Visit The Geevor Tin Mine Website >>


11. Museum Of Cornish Life

LOCATION MAP: Market Pl, Helston TR13 8TH

This is an amazing little museum in the heart of Helston, which explores the way people lived and worked in Cornwall in days gone by. It really is a treasure trove of memories and curiosities! There are activity sheets and dressing up for children, a play area for under 5s and a shop, cafe and toilets.

Opening Times
Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm and Saturday 12pm to 4pm. They are closed on Sundays.

Prices
It is completely free!

Dogs
Well behaved dogs are allowed - water bowls are provide.

Parking
There is no designated museum parking. The closest car park is on Wendron Street.

Visit The Museum Of Cornish Life Website >>


12. Royal Cornwall Museum

LOCATION MAP: 25 River St, Truro TR1 2SJ

The Royal Cornwall Museum was founded by The Royal Institution of Cornwall in 1818 to promote excellence in science and art and to forward the world-leading industries that Cornwall was known for. It is the world's greatest museum for Cornish heritage, art, and culture.

Opening Times
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Prices
Adults £7.50 (this gives you an annual pass). Under 18s go free.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome. A water bowl is provided on the cafe terrace.

Parking
There is no designated museum parking. The easiest way to visit is to use the Truro Park and Ride as the bus stops outside the museum.

Visit The Royal Cornwall Museum Website >>


13. Kresen Kernow

LOCATION MAP: Little Vauxhall, Redruth TR15 1AS

Kresen Kernow, which translates to Cornwall Centre, is home to the world's largest collection of documents, books, maps and photographs related to Cornwall's history. It has over 14 miles of shelving which stores over 1.5 million archives. The centre also has exhibition spaces, learning rooms and a digitisation suite.

Visitors can carry out research, pop in and browse, or take part in our varied activity programme featuring workshops, courses and fun family events.

Opening Times
Currently open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays 9:30am to 4pm. Please book if you are wanting to do research.

Prices
It is free to visit but there is a Copies and Research price list. There are lots of free family events on during the school holidays.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

Parking
There are a few free parking spaces within the grounds. If these are full there are several other pay and display car parks close by.

Visit The Kresen Kernow Website >>


14. PK Porthcurno - formally the Telegraph Museum

LOCATION MAP: Eastern House, Porthcurno, Penzance TR19 6JX

The Telegraph Museum changed it's name to PK as PK is the telegraphic code for Porthcurno! Porthcurno was the point at which many transatlantic telegraph came ashore, and the museum explores the history of how our world became connected.

During the school holidays they have regular holiday and activity sessions that your child might like to join in with.

Opening Times
Open daily from 9th April to 30th October 10am to 5pm.

Prices
Adults £10.00, Children £6, under 5s go free. Concession and family tickets are available. National Trust and English Heritage members also get a discount.

Dogs
This is a dog friendly museum, all except the World War II bunker, which is due to the sensitive nature of the equipment on display.

Parking
Parking is pay-on-exit with a discount offered to museum visitors who have paid for admission. The open top bus also stops in Porthcurno

There is a lovely cafe here and you are right next to Porthcurno Beach for a swim after your visit!

Visit The PK Porthcurno Website >>


15. Heartlands

LOCATION MAP: Robinson's Shaft, Dudnance Ln, Pool, Redruth TR15 3QY

Heartlands is a 19 acre Cornish Mining World Heritage Site a 19-acre and is a family friendly visitor attraction that embodies Cornish culture. There is a mining museum and exhibition, diaspora gardens, and a giant adventure playscape for kids. There are often activities over the school holidays including fireworks, inflatables, concerts and markets. There is also a soft play area here called Wheal Play.

Opening Times
Open Thursday to Sunday 10am to 2pm.

Prices
It is free to visit Heartlands. You do need to pay to use to soft play Wheal Play - £4.95 per child and £1 per adult. Unlimited hot drinks £3!

Dogs
Heartland is dog friendly, with the exception of the soft play.

Parking
There is paid parking here, the cost of which is redeemable in the Red River Cafe if you spend over £10.

Visit Heartland Website >>


16. National Maritime Museum Cornwall

LOCATION MAP: Discovery Quay, Port Pendennis, Falmouth TR11 3QY

The Falmouth Maritime Museum is one of our favourite places to visit. We often combine it with a shopping trip to Falmouth, or a boat trip or visit to Pendennis Castle. It is a very interactive museum, full of all things nautical. From Monsters Of The Deep to some very famous yachts. There is the more traditional rooms full of nautical artefacts and the brilliant tower which takes you under the sea.

During the school holidays they usually have a trail, art activities and science shows.

And you can't come to the maritime museum without having a sit on the RNLI jet ski or trying to steer a little yacht around the pool.

Opening Times
Open all year 10am to 5pm.

Prices
Adults £15.50, Children £7.75. Under 5s go free. Pay once for the whole year.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are allowed. There is an area in front of the Museum with a dog bed, water bowl and a tether.

Parking
There are several pay and display car parks in front of the museum. There is also on street parking towards Pendennis castle.

There is a lovely cafe where you can eat in or bring your own picnic. There is also a very tantalising gift shop.

Visit The National Maritime Museum Cornwall Website >>


17. Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre

LOCATION MAP: A3059, next to R A F Saint Mawgan, Newquay TR8 4JN

Fancy climbing in a plane? The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre is the perfect place for fans of flying and planes. You can climb into their aircraft and feel what it was like to be in them. The idea is for you to get up close and personal with the aircraft, and learn the stories and the background of these exciting machines.

Opening Times
Sunday to Thursday 10am to 4pm. Closed on a Friday and Saturday.

Prices
Adult £10.50, children under 14 £6.00.

Dogs
Dogs on a lead are welcome.

Parking
Parking onsite.

Visit The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre Website >>


18. King Edward Mine Museum

LOCATION MAP: Troon, Camborne TR14 9HW

Step back in time to discover the history of tin mining in Cornwall. There are lots of machines that you can actually see working - this isn't a static museum!

Opening Times
Summer time opening Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They are closed Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 10am to 3pm (last tour).

Prices
Adults £9, Under 16s £2 Children under 5 go free.

Dogs
Well behaved dogs are welcome.

Parking
There is a large car park

There is a cafe and shop onsite.

Visit The King Edward Mine Museum Website >>


19. St Agnes Museum

LOCATION MAP: Penwinnick Rd, St Agnes, TR5 0PA

We love visiting St Agnes and always like to pop into the little museum there. It is full of fascinating artefacts and information about the Parish of St Agnes. There’s lots about the rich mining and maritime history with a detailed model of the former harbour and the fabulous Lady Agnes figurehead. It is a real cabinet of curiosities.

Opening Times
Open daily from 10:30am to 4:30pm until 31 October

Prices
Admission is FREE!

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

Parking
Please park in the St Agnes Village car park and walk across (it's not far)

Visit The St Agnes Museum Website >>


20. Jamaica Inn Smuggling Museum

LOCATION MAP: Bolventor, Launceston PL15 7TS

Okay, so Jamaica Inn is a fair way from St Ives, but we love to stop here when driving up country. The museum there is brilliant and is perfect for a break.

The Smuggling Museum houses one of the finest collections of smuggling artefacts in the country. Featuring 'The History of Jamaica Inn', an educational and historical film show, the Museum brings alive many of the myths and legends associated with Jamaica Inn and Cornwall, including tales of wreckers and smugglers over the past 300 years.

Opening Times
Open daily from 8am to 9pm

Prices
Adult £3.95, Children £2.95. Family tickets and concessions are available.

Dogs
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome

Parking
There is parking onsite

There is also a farm shop and gift shop plus Jamaica Inn itself where you can get something to eat and drink.

Visit The Jamaica Inn Smuggling Museum Website >>


 



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