The Shipwreck Treasure Museum, overlooking the World Heritage Site of Charlestown Harbour, is packed with the most incredible treasures rescued from more than 150 wrecks around the world. It is also the entrance to an atmospheric underground tunnel that once used to move clay to ships moored in the harbour. Museum Manager Daniel Scholes told us why the museum is unmissable.
Can you tell us about some of the highlights?
We have artefacts from famous shipwrecks such as the Mary Rose, to fictional items including the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ necklace from the James Cameron film Titanic. One thing not to be missed would be the only intact barrel of coins ever recovered from a wreck.
Tell us about your current special exhibition
For anyone with an interest in exploration and photography, the Shackleton’s Legacy exhibition is built around the photographs taken by Frank Hurley, the official photographer of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition.
Which part of the museum is best for children?
The tunnels beneath the museum are an exciting and immersive space for kids. We have created an underground world covered in ice to replicate Antarctica and Shackleton’s journey. In December, this space becomes the first section of our Tunnel of Lights experience where the tunnels are transformed into a Christmas wonderland!
Tell us more about the Tunnel of Lights…
It’s now into its fourth year and is bigger, brighter and more Christmassy than ever. This year, we’re extending into the main part of the museum, adding at least another 100 metres. We will have themed areas recreating familiar Christmas scenes, a Christmas Market area and a three-metre tall snow globe where families can have their picture taken.
What are the most unusual treasures from Cornish shipwrecks in the museum?
A Bronze Age tin ingot found on the next beach along the coast from Charlestown. It is up to 4,000 years old and would have been part of a trade with the Phoenicians in the Ancient Mediterranean. The ingot provides a rare and tangible link between Cornwall and the legendary world of Greek legends such as the battle of Troy and the epic tales of Homer.
You welcome dogs into the museum, why did you make this decision?
So many visitors to Cornwall bring their four-legged friends with them and there aren’t that many indoor attractions in Cornwall where you can bring your dog. Our team loves to say ‘hi’ to them. I bring my golden retriever Tiberius into the office each week and he loves to make new friends.
Have you ever been down to see a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea yourself?
I am ashamed to say that I have never dived. I would love to experience the thrill of seeing something long lost appear from the watery gloom ahead of you. Then again, when I hear some of the tales of the early pioneers who discovered many of the famous wrecks, I do wonder if I would have the courage to take that plunge…