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From its origins as an important pilchard fishing village, St Ives has since become famous as an art centre and today it boasts a rich cultural heritage and a wealth of artistic talent. Painters have been drawn to St Ives since the early 1800’s but perhaps the biggest cultural influence on the town came from the St Ives School – a group of abstract artists who began gathering in the 1950’s. Their influence is still in evidence today as well as that of other notable artists over the years.

Here is our choice of the 5 best galleries and museums to visit in St Ives.

*Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions entry to all museums is by ticket booking only. Please see websites for specific details.

1. Tate St Ives

View of Porthmeor Beach from Tate St Ives

Tate St Ives, situated above Porthmeor Beach, boasts a striking modern design. The curved white concrete stands in contrast to the town’s predominantly quaint skyline. Inside, it is rich in art connected with the area. With no permanent collection, it instead presents fascinating special exhibitions which change throughout the year. Be sure to visit the café for spectacular views over the town and the Atlantic Ocean.

Location: Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1TG

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 17:20 | Sunday 10 – 16:20

Admission: £10.50 with donation, £9.50 for concessions

2. The Leach Pottery – Studio and Museum

Founded in 1920 by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, Leach Pottery is one of the most influential studios in the world. Inspiration was drawn from Japanese and Oriental sculpture, creating a unique fusion of Eastern and Western ideas.

As well as boasting a working studio, the museum showcases an impressive collection of permanent works plus an exhibition with changing displays. If you want to get involved in creating your own pottery then numerous courses and classes operate throughout the year, catering to all levels of experience.

Location: Higher Stennack, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2HE

Opening times: Wednesday and Friday by guided tour

3. Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Barbara Hepworth workshop

Run by the Tate St Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden offers a unique insight into the life and work of one of Britain’s leading abstract artists of the 20th century. Once the artist’s home and studio, today it houses a wonderful collection of bronze, stone and wood sculptures, along with paintings, drawings and archive material.

Location: Barnoon Hill, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1AD

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 17:20

Admission: Currently only offering admission combined with Tate St Ives entry

4. St Ives Society of Artists

Founded by marine artist George Fagan Bradshaw in 1927, the St Ives Society of Artists was set up to exhibit important works of art and improve standards in the artists colony. Continuing to this day, the Society celebrates creative excellence and the gallery houses a fabulous mix of contemporary works. The ‘Mariners Gallery’, in the former crypt, is often rented out to individual artists.

Location: Norway Square, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1NA

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 17:00 | Sunday 14:00 – 17:00

Admission: Free

5. Anima Mundi

Set over three floors, Anima Mundi is Cornwall’s leading independent gallery. Boasting a quality collection, it showcases a wide range of contemporary art and ceramics from established and up and coming artists. It frequently stages one-man shows and the exhibitions are constantly changing.

Location: Street an Pol, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2DS

Opening times: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 17:00

Admission: Free

Image credit: pam frayCC-BY-SA-2.0; SideLongCC-BY-2.0