Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history


Luminaries: Victorian Photographers in West Cornwall

Image: Circus procession Chapel Street, 1902 
by William Colenso

Our current exhibition is Luminaries: Victorian Photographers in West Cornwall. The exhibition gives visitors an insight into the lives of the local community in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through rare images of West Penwith from the dawn of the photographic age. The exhibition, which runs until 16 March, is a chance to showcase some of the Gibson & Sons Archive which Penlee House acquired in 2016 with the assistance of The Art Fund, ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and Cornwall Heritage Trust. In addition to images by Gibson & Sons, the show includes local professional photographers such as Robert Preston and the Richards Brothers, as well as amateur photographers such as William Colenso and John Branwell, son of the first owner of Penlee House. 

Penlee House has been awarded a £13,500 National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support a project called ‘Illuminations: Developing Community Engagement with Penlee's Photographic Collections’.

The project is working with members of the local community to introduce them to the photographic collections held at Penlee House. The community engagement project runs alongside the 'Luminaries' exhibition. Special Luminaries-themed events include our activities for babies, under fives and families

It is possible to purchase reproductions of most of the images in the exhibition. Prints come in a variety of sizes and make unique gifts. Please contact the shop for further information on 01736 363625


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. Click here for 2019 dates

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  


Artists, by Themselves 

23 March - 8 June 2019
If you have ever wondered what the artists of the Newlyn School and the Lamorna Group looked like, then this is the show for you! This revealing exhibition shows how they represented themselves and their fellow artists. Includes portraits by Stanhope Forbes, Fred Hall, Dame Laura Knight, Dod Procter and Richard Weatherby. 
The exhibition will be on the ground floor galleries, with a selection of Newlyn School paintings on view upstairs in Gallery 5.


Insiders / Outsiders - Albert Reuss in Mousehole

25 February - 25 April 2019

Insiders/Outsiders is a nationwide arts festival celebrating refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British culture. The festival coincides with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War and runs from March 2019 until March 2020.

Insiders/Outsiders highlights the indelible contribution of the artists, photographers, writers, architects, designers, actors, film-makers, dancers and musicians as well as publishers, art historians, dealers and collectors who, in fleeing Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, greatly enriched this country’s culture.

Insiders/Outsiders brings together exhibitions, concerts, dance and theatre performances, film screenings, walks, lectures and poetry readings in cultural institutions across the UK.

More info on the Insiders/Outsiders page