Imagine having a vested interest in the largest, most strikingly beautiful liroconite crystal in the world or a magnificent Bronze Age gold lunulae? Perhaps a Bernard Leach pot would be more to your taste or the medicine chest of Richard Lander, the son of a Truro innkeeper who led expeditions to West Africa in the nineteenth century?
These are just some of the highly desirable and fascinating artefacts that the Royal Cornwall Museum has in its collection. Now, as part of an endowment campaign to raise £500,000 in donations by May 2021 and achieve a match funding grant of the same amount from the Heritage Fund, each of these and other priceless objects are up for adoption.
Situated in River Street, Truro, the museum welcomes more than 30,000 visitors each year – including around 7000 local school children who learn about their heritage through interactive displays and fun, educational activities. Moving through a timeline exhibition in the Main Gallery that begins with prehistoric Cornish finds and stories and ends with the modern day, there is plenty to enthral, contemplate and captivate in a collection that comprises 300,000 items – from flint arrow heads and Iron Age spindles to amazing minerals and enduring art and craft.
“We’re launching the adopt an object scheme as part of our two-year mission to secure the funding and preserve the museum’s future,” says Gift Manager Nicki Foley. “People can donate as little as £5 per annum to become one of 50 official adopters of our well-known Anthony Payne Cornish Giant painting, for example, or £250 to be one of ten to adopt a gold nugget or a miner’s hat from the 1800s. In return, they will get a digital certificate, online recognition of their support and a digital image of the object for their personal use.”
Among the other items on the adoption list are the liroconite mineral for £15 (a stunning blue specimen from Wheal Gorland mine in St Day); the gold lunulae for £25 (an early Bronze Age necklace found at Cargurra Farm, Hennet Marsh, St Juliot); a pale green Neolithic jadeite axe head for £15; the Trewinnard Coach for £10 (an unmissable centrepiece in the Main Gallery); a Cornish chough in the Natural History section for £5; a tin stamp for £25; a smuggler’s bank note for £10; the Bernard Leach pot for £15 and an early printed book for £10.
The Royal Cornwall Museum is run by the Royal Institution of Cornwall which was first established in 1818. It moved to its current premises, a former bank, one hundred years ago but maintaining the building and the treasures in its collections doesn’t come cheap. Which is why donations and fundraising initiatives are so important.
“The museum is all about taking inspiration from the past to forge an equally exciting future,” enthuses Nicki. “You only need to look at the faces of the children who come here to see what a vital role it plays in generating ideas and encouraging creativity. Over the next two years, the Heritage Fund will effectively double every pound donated and Gift Aid will also significantly increase eligible contributions.
“This is a golden opportunity to help raise a million pounds by becoming personally involved in the caring and sharing of the vast range of fascinating objects we have here. Very few people can say they’ve got a personal interest in a precious stone mined locally or a stunning piece of jewellery made thousands of years ago. This initiative provides that chance and we’re hoping anyone passionate about Cornish heritage and history will seize it.”
As part of the endowment campaign, the museum has also launched a spring raffle with tickets priced at £1 each. Prizes include gift vouchers and meals out and the draw will take place on 5 September.
For more information, visit the website or call 01872 272205. The Royal Cornwall Museum is open 7 days a week, from 10am to 4.45pm.