Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history
Image: Storm
By John Armstong ARA, 1951
Private Collection ©  The Artist's Estate/ Bridgeman Images

It is necessary to close some of the galleries between exhibitions, so please do check what is open before making a special journey during those times. In 2017, the downstairs exhibition galleries will be closed for re-hang 27 November - 1 December. Click here for 2018 datesEntrance to Penlee is FREE during rehang week.

Not all the paintings are on show at any one time. If there is a particular picture that you would like to see, please let us know in advance of your visit or on the day.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the current brochure

CLICK HERE for past exhibitions 


John Armstrong: Dream & Reality

16 September - 18 November

This exhibition examines the diverse range of work produced over the lifetime of this intriguing artist. John Armstrong ARA (1893 - 1973) studied briefly at St John’s Wood School of Art but was essentially self-taught. His one-man exhibition in 1928 established him in avant-garde circles, including that of Unit One with Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash and others. He later became deeply involved in theatre and film, designing sets for the Royal Ballet and costumes for ten of Alexander Korda’s epic films. Although his paintings show the influence of Surrealism, Armstrong was never a Surrealist; instead he forged a very personal style that confronted conventional ideas and beliefs with a blend of ironic wit and personal symbolism. After the war, he spent a period of time in Lamorna before returning to London and continuing his eclectic style that encompassed still life and classicism alongside more abstract works. Ground floor galleries. A selection of Newlyn School paintings on view upstairs in Gallery 5. Watch the John Armstrong short film here

Exhibition sponsored by



The Art of Frederic Stuart Richardson (1855 - 1934)

25 November 2017 - 6 January 2018

With rarely seen works from a private collection, this exhibition showcases the work of this Bristol-born artist who trained as a civil engineer before embarking on a career in art. Richardson studied in Paris alongside John Singer Sargent and was encouraged by the eminent Victorian artist Luke Fildes. He exhibited regularly with the ‘Bristol Savages’ group, the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour. Known for painting seascapes inspired by his travels around the coast, he was part of the famous artists’ colony in Staithes, Yorkshire and made regular visits to Cornwall. Galleries 2, 3 & 4. Free admission.

The Gibson Dynasty: Pioneers of Photography

25 November 2017 - 6 January 2018

A selection of 19th and early 20th century photographs from the Gibson & Sons archive recently acquired by Penlee House. John Gibson (1827 - 1920) was an early adopter of this new medium and set up successful businesses on the Isles of Scilly and Penzance, assisted by his sons Herbert and Alexander. Their pictures document the working lives of the people of West Cornwall as well as showing their passion for observing the ancient landscape. Gallery 5. Free admission.

Crafts for Christmas: a selling exhibition of Cornish Craft

25 November 2017 - 6 January 2018

This gathering of high quality work by Cornwall Craft, which includes jewelery, textiles, ceramics and woodcarving, has become a regular fixture on the Penlee House Christmas events calendar. All crafts can be purchased immediately, making them the ideal gift or treat.

David Haughton in St Just

13 January - 17 March 2018

David Haughton (1924 - 1991) moved to West Cornwall in 1948 after dropping out of the Slade School of Art. He soon joined the ranks of the St Ives modernists, becoming a member of the avant-garde Crypt Group, the Penwith Society and the St Ives Society of Artists. While out on a bicycle ride with his friend and fellow artist Kit Barker, Haughton came across St Just, the compact mining town situated on the moors between Penzance and St Ives. He later described the encounter as both a magical experience and a turning point in his life. Even after leaving Cornwall in 1950 to teach at the Central School in London, Haughton returned every year for thirty years, often with groups of students. This exhibition of prints, drawings and paintings shows his lifetime love affair with St Just. Gallery 1 - a selection of Newlyn School and Lamorna Group paintings in Galleries 2, 3, 4 & 5.