We welcome pre-booked group visits to Penlee House and offer a free introductory talk, plus free admission for the group leader and, if relevant, coach driver. If you are interested in bringing a group of any size to Penlee House, please contact us on 01736 363625 to discuss your requirements and book a time and date.
Information for group leaders
Size of groups
Penlee House was originally built as a Victorian family home, and consequently the galleries are of a domestic size. Unfortunately, therefore, we cannot accommodate any group comprising more than 25 at one time. We do, however, allow larger groups to split in to two and will repeat the introductory talk as necessary - one half might take a refreshment break whilst the other half look around.
Time of Arrival
When you book, we will ensure that your visit does not clash with other groups so that you have a safe and enjoyable visit. As we are increasingly popular with group travel organisers, other groups may be visiting the Gallery and Museum on the day you have booked and, because of the size of our galleries and the consequential restriction on numbers, it is important that you arrive on time. If your plans change for any reason, please ring the Gallery and inform us of your new estimated time of arrival (01736 363625). A late or early arrival could mean that we are unable to allow your group in if your time of arrival coincides with another booked group - although every effort will be made to accommodate your group as soon as we can.
We offer a free 5-10 minute introductory talk about Penlee House and the current exhibition, but this must be booked in advance. Talks can usually be tailored to a group's interest, so if you would like us to focus on a specific subject or area of the collections, please let us know at the time of booking.
Payment (where applicable)
When paying for admission by cash, we would be grateful if the group leader could collect money from individuals beforehand and pay at the reception desk in one transaction. Cheques should be made payable to Penzance Town Council. We take all major credit and debit cards and payment on invoice can be arranged - please ask at the time of booking.
What is on show
Please check the What's On - Exhibitions page for details of the particular exhibition that will be on show for your planned visit. Penlee House presents five temporary exhibitions each year and these are usually planned 2-3 years ahead, so if your visit is a long way ahead and beyond the scope of the published programme, please contact us for details.
Each exhibition has a direct relevance to the artistic and social history of west Cornwall and includes works from our own permanent collection, supplemented by loans from public and private collections. If the main exhibition is not of work by the Newlyn School, we ensure that a representative selection of works by these artists is on show.
In addition to the galleries, our museum contains a wealth of material relating to the archaeology and social history of west Cornwall. The Archaeology gallery comprises everything pre 1500, while the Social History gallery continues the story into the 20th century. The subjects include Humphry Davy and his time, Penzance as a Market Town, Trade, Mining, Farming, Tourism and Fishing, together with changing displays of Crysede fabrics and Newlyn copper.
Copyright remains live, and usually remains the property of the artist's estate, for 70 years after the artist's death. For this reason, many of the paintings on display are still within copyright, even if they belong to us. In addition to this, all our exhibitions contain works lent by private and public collections, and there is often a stipulation that no photography is allowed. Because of this, we do not allow any photography anywhere in the gallery or museum. We do, however, try to ensure that postcards, greeting cards and prints of the most popular images are available in our shop at reasonable prices.
Bags and Rucksacks
To prevent accidental damage to the vulnerable works on show, we do not allow rucksack-style bags to be carried on visitors' backs. We do, however, have a cupboard where bags can be locked away, at the owner's risk. Bags can be carried by hand if preferred.
Our small on-site Café, The Orangery, has a limited number of covers and cannot accommodate groups. Tea, coffee and cakes are served throughout the day, but a minimum charge is levied at lunch time.
A typical daily menu consists of a fresh soup, a choice of sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatoes, plus a small number of main meals (including at least one vegetarian option). The Orangery is very popular and all food is freshly prepared to order, so it may necessitate a considerable wait.
Please note that it is not possible to book tables in the cafe, but groups may be catered for by having a buffet-style lunch in our education building, Penlee Coach House: for details and prices, please see the attached menu. Use of the Coach House is free, but it is a busy facility and must be pre-booked. If you think you would like to arrange lunch in the Coach House, please state this at the time of booking your group and we will ensure that it is available before proceeding with your booking.
The Orangery Café is a separate franchise, so to discuss your catering requirements, please speak to their Café Manager on 01736 361325.