It may surprise some visitors and locals alike to learn that there are actually more than 70 museums in Cornwall. From art and technology to mining and witchcraft, for the curious these wonderful resources are just ready and waiting to bring the past to life!
Well-known museums such as the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro and the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth are on everyone’s to-do list, and with good reason, but it is important not to underestimate the little hidden gems and the sheer wealth of history that can be found in some of Cornwall’s smaller museums. Many are staffed by volunteers who have an amazing knowledge and a real passion for their particular town, which only adds to the experience.
With so much to enjoy we have chosen a few highlights to inspire you to explore.
The Museum of Cornish Life
The Museum of Cornish Life in Helston seems a good place to start. It is housed in the town’s historic Market Buildings and has one of the largest social history collections in the South West. From archaeological finds from the Lizard Peninsula to a fully stocked 1950s kitchen there is plenty to keep you fascinated and entertained.
The Telegraph Station
On a cliff top at Porthcurno above the crashing waves you can discover a rather surprising relic of the past. The Telegraph Station, once called the ‘Nerve Centre of the Empire’, connected Cornwall to rest of the world through 150,000 miles of underwater cables.
Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
But perhaps one of the most unique collections in the country can be found at Boscastle. Here the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic houses the world’s largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts and regalia. Spooky and unexpected!
Unmissable Polperro and Charlestown
If it is the swashbuckling nostalgia of free-trading, pirates and shipwrecks that you are after then Polperro’s Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing, with its stunning photographic archive, and Charlestown’s Shipwreck Treasure Museum are unmissable.
Redruth Old Cornwall Museum and Wheal Martyn Museum
Moving inland, the often overlooked Redruth Old Cornwall Museum gathers together the wonderfully diverse history of this truly Cornish mining town, from a vast array of minerals to a fine collection of Neolithic flint arrowheads and spear heads dating from around 3400BC. Meanwhile the Wheal Martyn Museum, now a World Heritage Site, brings to life the china clay industry and the people who worked and lived in the shadows of Cornwall’s iconic ‘white pyramids’.
Weird and wonderful…
There are just too many highlights to mention them all but just for fun here are a few other weird and wonderful objects worth hunting down – Garibaldi’s cape in Fowey Museum, the mummified rat in Penryn Museum, a three hundred million year old fossilised fish found only in Bude and one family’s collection of farming paraphernalia at St Winnow Barton Farm Museum! Whether you are escaping the rain, have had too much sun or are just looking for a different perspective, Cornwall’s small town and village museums are full of unusual and informative collections to surprise and delight!