The Royal Cornwall is the county’s oldest museum, famed for its important collections of natural history, geology, decorative arts and Newlyn School paintings
The Royal Cornwall Museum and Courtney Library is managed by the Royal Institution of Cornwall. In addition to collecting and displaying exhibits, it is also involved in education, publishing and various outreach programmes. Temporary exhibitions throughout the year present the collections in different contexts and promote the work of contemporary artists.
The museum includes an Egyptology collection, including an unwrapped 25th Dynasty mummy, classical Greek and Roman objects and a world famous collection of minerals, including the largest specimen of liroconite ever discovered. The decorative arts collection is very strong, including many Newlyn School paintings. There is also a selection of work by other Cornish artists and designers. In addition there are works by nationally and internationally important artists such as Romney, Constable, Gainsborough, Turner, Van Dyck, Rossetti, Rubens, Guardi, Tiepolo, Hogarth, Lely, Burne-Jones and Augustus John. The Courtney Library holds books, periodicals and archive material about Cornwall and the South West. There is also an extensive photographic collection, recording the history of Cornwall from 1845.
There are collections of archaeology, including material from prehistoric to post-medieval periods. These include chance finds and excavated material from many sites including the Neolithic Carn Brea, Middle Bronze Age Trethellan, Iron Age Harlyn Bay and Roman Nanstallon sites. There are some interesting Neolithic flint and stone tools and Romano-British pottery.
One of the highlights of the museum is a collection of ceramics from Britain and Europe, including examples from most of the leading factories in England. There is also studio pottery from Bernard Leach. The metalwork collection includes Newlyn copper, English pewter and local silver. Japanese artefacts include swords, ivory carvings, decorative boxes and a collection of Shibayama work.
In addition, there are extensive textile, biological, botanical and zoological collections. Coins and trade tokens are well represented and the mineralogical collection is particularly significant and considered to be one of the finest in the world.
The "Truro Bookshop" is now part of the museum and offers a range of books and gifts.
The Royal Cornwall Museum is free and is open throughout the year from Monday to Saturday.