Penlee House Gallery
Address: Penlee House Museum, Penlee Manor Drive, Penzance, Cornwall TR18 4HE
Telephone: 01736 363625
Penlee House Gallery & Museum
By Rochelle Carr
Nestled in Penzance’s tranquil Penlee Park is Penlee House Gallery & Museum. A true celebration of Cornish art, it is the only Cornish venue which specialises in the Newlyn School, and early St Ives artists.
The museum collection originates from the Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society, founded in 1839. Its first home was in the dome of the Market House which had just been completed and contained a mixture of Natural Science, Archaeology and Ethnological artefacts – a typical antiquarian museum of the period. In 1867 with the construction of the Public Buildings, the Museum moved to new premises, where it remained until 1947. In 1939 the collections were put into storage and unfortunately many items subsequently disappeared, including the extensive Egyptian collection and more unusual items such as the hand of a Mummy with a gold signet ring and a shrunken head.
At the end of World War II, the Penlee Estate, originally built for the wealthy Branwell family in 1865, was purchased as a War Memorial and was opened as a Museum in 1949. Following a major refurbishment it re-opened in its current form in 1997 and now offers changing displays drawn from its own collections, supplemented by loans from public and private collections, reflecting the unique, rich heritage of the Penwith district of west Cornwall.
This first-class gallery has a fantastic collection of paintings by Newlyn School artists (1880 – 1940), including School is Out by Elizabeth Forbes, The Rain it Raineth Every Day by Norman Garstin and On Paul Hill by Stanhope Forbes.
With over 6,000 years of Cornish history on display in the museum, the artefacts cover the amazing and quirky heritage of Cornwall. Another compelling aspect of the museum is the location; much of what you see relates to parts of Cornwall in the vicinity of Penlee House. The fact that the museum is situated within the very history it is retelling creates an evocative setting for delving into Cornwall’s fascinating past.
The museum and gallery sit next to the Orangery Café overlooking the park, where you can enjoy fabulous home baked cakes, lunches and a range of teas and coffees. There are plenty of activities to keep the little ones entertained, with fantastic drop-in ‘make and take’ family workshops on Saturdays (2.30 – 3.30pm) as well as activities during the school holidays.
Find out more about Penlee House Gallery & Museum at www.penleehouse.org.uk.