From St Ives to St Austell, Cornwall has some of the finest museums in the UK. Whether you want to find out more about the region’s incredible industrial and maritime past or surround yourself with wonders from around the world, there is sure to be a museum to educate and inspire you here. With so many Cornish museums to choose from, we’ve put together this guide to help you decide which one would be the best for you.
Museum of Witchcraft & Magic
Best for: Witches and wizards
The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is a museum dedicated to European witchcraft and magic and houses one of the world’s largest collections of items relating to witchcraft and the occult. Since 1960, their collection has grown to more than 3,000 objects and some 7,000 books.
The museum was forced to move three times due to vandalism and pressure from the locals in the towns before settling here in its current home in the picturesque fishing port of Boscastle. In 2014, the museum came under the ownership of the Museum of British Folklore who added “Magic” to the museum’s title.
Geevor Tin Mine
Best for: Social history
In furthest West Cornwall, Pendan is home to largest preserved tin mine in England. The award winning museum here tells the story of mining in the region, which is as much a part of Cornish identity as the humble pasty.
The mine formally ended operations in 1990, having produced over 50,00 tons of black tin during its eighty-year history. You can learn about the community that worked and lived here and marvel at the fantastic structure that transported the tin from the deep. The museum is surrounded by the Cornish Minist UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the largest heritage sites in the UK.
Royal Cornwall Museum
Best for: History buffs
The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro was set up 200 years ago to showcase historic objects and artefacts from Cornwall and around the world. Many of these archaeological items tell a story of Cornwall’s past and inspire many visitors to learn about ancestry and art.
It is the only museum in Cornwall with permanent Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian displays, and a fine collection of rare ceramics. With fantastic interactive exhibitions, history will really come to life for the kids here. There are plenty of other exhibits too, including fine paintings, local history, rocks, fossils and gems. If nothing else, the world-famous collection of minerals, is sure to captivate you.
National Maritime Museum
Best for: Boaties and sailors
Preserving Cornwall’s rich maritime heritage is the National Maritime Museum located at Falmouth’s Discovery Quay Harbour in West Cornwall. The museum is a sprawling attraction that provides tons of excellent exhibits bound to spark your interest.
Entering the museum you’ll see an impressive collection of life-size boats strung from the ceiling, alongside charming model boats and fascinating artefacts that have helped to form Cornwall’s Maritime history. The museum is a great destination for kids as there’s always something going on. Arts Council England recently partnered with the museum to develop the Cornish Voices project, which commissioned actors to put on special performances to bring the museum to life.