Museums

Did you know that there are over 70 museums in Cornwall?  These museums attract over 1 million visits each year and are an important part of Cornwall’s cultural offer, enriching the lives of local people and showcasing our rich heritage.  To find out more about the many museums in Cornwall visit the Museums in Cornwall website.

Cornwall’s museums range from the very small volunteer-run, to the larger-scale museums like the Royal Cornwall Museum and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. We have an amazing diversity of collections from industrial heritage through to fine art, with everything in between. Working closely with the museum sector, Cornwall Council has developed a shared vision and plan, identifying a number of clear and practical measures that will support museums to enhance their services, benefit more people within our communities and become more resilient.  Please take a look at the Cornwall Museums' Strategy and its companion document Cornwall Museums Maximising Our Impact to find out more.

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Unlike many other local authorities Cornwall Council doesn’t directly run any museums. Instead we currently have management agreements in place with four museums that look after Cornwall Council owned buildings or collections.  These include Geevor Tin Mine, King Edward Mine, Penlee House and Helston Museum. In addition Royal Cornwall Museum looks after part of our art collection for us, find out more on our Art Collections page.

We provide Museums Revenue Grant funding to four Museums: Wheal Martyn, National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Royal Cornwall Museum and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. In addition to this the Council also provides grant funding to a number of museum projects. For example we invest in the Cornwall Museums Partnership, an innovative new organisation which encourages collaborative working and provides support in fundraising and income generation; a professional advisory service for museum staff and volunteers and a range of training and events.

Together with Arts Council England the Council funds Cornwall’s Museum Development Officer (MDO) service.  The MDO works with museums across Cornwall providing professional advice and guidance, to enable museums to achieve sustainable improvements and maximize their benefits to audiences and their communities.

We are match funding the Arts Council’s investment into the Change Makers Programme in Cornwall. This is intended to diversify the senior leadership in the museum sector and inject new ways of thinking into cultural organisations.

Previous Council investments into strategic museums programmes have included Catalyst (which aims to build museums fundraising capacity and skills) and the Young Ambassadors project which were both principally funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Young Ambassadors was an imaginative project that paired three schools with their local museums and gave students the opportunity to collaborate with the museum staff and artists to devise displays and interpretation that would make the museums more attractive to a younger audience.

We are working closely with several museums to help them undertake significant transformation projects. See our Major Projects page for more details.