Falmouth Art Gallery

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Falmouth Public Library and Art Gallery in The Moor

Falmouth Art Gallery is an art gallery in Cornwall, with one of the leading art collections in Cornwall and southwest England,[1] which features work by old masters, major Victorian artists, British and French Impressionists, leading surrealists and maritime artists, children's book illustrators, automata, contemporary painters and printmakers. It is located on The Moor, in the upper floor of the Municipal Buildings above the Library in Falmouth, Cornwall.


Falmouth Art Gallery in its present form opened on 12 October 1978 and was renovated with grant aid from The Heritage Lottery Fund and other funding bodies, opening on 31 May 1996. Falmouth Art Gallery is a service funded by Falmouth Town Council and is a nationally accredited museum and complies with standards laid down for the Registration of Museums in the United Kingdom.[2]

The core of the town's art collection dates from 1923, with gifts made by Alfred de Pass (1861–1952), a South African businessman and art benefactor. This has encouraged other major donations, most notably from Richard Harris, Robert Priseman,[3] Grace Gardner,[4] and Sue and Ron Astles. The gallery has also benefited from purchases made through grant funding from organisations such as The Art Fund,[1] the Heritage Lottery Fund, MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, and the Nerys Johnson Contemporary Art Fund.[5]

The collection[edit]

Most of its art collection came from donations made by Alfred de Pass, a businessman and philanthropist who spent an important amount of his personal fortune on buying works of art, which were generously donated to museums and galleries throughout England and South Africa [6] The town's art collection, administered by the gallery's director Brian Stewart until his untimely death in 2010,[7] features works by major British artists including Sir Frank Brangwyn, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Charles Napier Hemy, Dame Laura Knight, Sir Alfred Munnings, Harry Ousey, William Strang, Henry Scott Tuke, John William Waterhouse, George Frederick Watts and Cornish painter John Opie.

Following a 2009 Art Fund bequest, Falmouth acquired a major collection including etchings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edvard Munch, and several works by Prunella Clough, one of the most significant British painters and printmakers of the post-war period.[1] This was followed in 2013 by a major gift of 20 works of art to the gallery from the British artist Robert Priseman. Known as The Robert Priseman Gift[8] works of art by leading British artists of the 21st century such as Mary Webb, Sir Peter Blake, Nicholas Middleton, Marguerite Horner, Alex Hanna, Simon Burton, Simon Carter and Julian Brown were bequeathed to the Gallery.

Falmouth also holds one of the most important master print collections outside London, including woodcuts, engravings, lithographs and screen prints by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Claude Lorrain, Adriaen van Ostade, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Merlyn Evans, Andy Warhol, Patrick Caulfield and Sir Peter Blake.[1] In addition, Falmouth houses small but important collections of 20th-century and contemporary photography and Surrealism.[9] It has the largest collection of Lee Miller photographs outside the 'Lee Miller Archive', as well as remarkable photographs by Eve Arnold, Fay Godwin and Linda McCartney. The Surrealist collection includes photographs by Roland Penrose and works by Henry Moore, Man Ray, Eileen Agar and the Cornish surrealist Jonathon Coudrille.[10]

Recent exhibitions[edit]

The modern collection includes specially commissioned works for seasonal exhibitions such as the Darwin200 exhibitions in 2009, celebrating the arrival in Falmouth of Charles Darwin at the end of his HMS Beagle voyage in 1836. A plaque was erected as part of these celebrations in Falmouth marking the point where Darwin came ashore near the gallery and left by mail coach for Shrewsbury. Exhibitions and the permanent collection includes contemporary Cornish artists such as John Dyer the official Darwin200 artist for the Southwest.[11]

In 2016, Cornwall based artist Andrew Lanyon created an exhibition 'The Musings of Creatures - imagined in a barren land' [12] which featured many artist and brought a rage of new work into the Falmouth Art Gallery Collection including those by Andrew Litten, Carlos Zapda and David Kemp.[13]

Notable previous exhibitions include the "Surrealists on Holiday" in Cornwall and Matisse; a list of previous exhibitions can be found on the website.

Exhibitions are mounted in partnership with many organisations including Newlyn School paintings from Penlee House Museum and Gallery, Royal Cornwall Museum Truro, Falmouth University and Newquay Zoo.

An A to Z of artists in the collection is available on the gallery's website and a digital imaging project is underway[when?] to make the collection accessible online[14]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Falmouth Art Gallery has been nominated for or won 15 major awards including The Guardian newspaper Kids in Museums Award 2006 (Winner)[15] and the Gulbenkian Prize, Britain's most prestigious arts award.[16]

Falmouth Art Gallery has gained national recognition for its innovative education programme. It was recently selected as one of four national flagship schemes by the Government’s Museums and Galleries Lifelong Learning Initiative. The gallery welcomes a wide range of groups from Surestart toddlers to Age Concern senior citizens.


  1. ^ a b c d "Major collection given to Falmouth Art Gallery via Art Fund bequest". The Art Fund. 8 June 2009. 
  2. ^ For a more detailed summary of the history of the Gallery, see the Acquisitions and Disposals Policy (2008), available online.
  3. ^ "The Robert Priseman Gift". www.falmouthartgallery.com. Retrieved 2016-12-16. 
  4. ^ Looksystems.net Note on Grace Gardner and her pictures, Falmouth Art Gallery.
  5. ^ "The Origins of the Collection". Falmouth Art Gallery. 
  6. ^ "BBC – Your Paintings – Falmouth Art Gallery". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Birkett, Dea (23 December 2010). "Brian Stewart obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "The Robert Priseman Gift". Falmouth Art Gallery. 2013. Retrieved 2017-05-14. 
  9. ^ "Surrealists Collection". Falmouth Art Gallery. 
  10. ^ "Masters of Photography". Falmouth Art Gallery. 
  11. ^ Archive of Seasonal Exhibitions 2003–2008, Falmouth Art Gallery.
  12. ^ http://www.falmouthartgallery.com/Exhibitions/2016/1027~The_Musings_of_Creatures_-_imagined_in_a_barren_land
  13. ^ http://www.falmouthartgallery.com/Collection/Artists
  14. ^ Artists A–Z, Falmouth Art Gallery.
  15. ^ Caroline Lewis, "Falmouth Art Gallery wins Guardian Family Friendly Award 2006, Culture 24, 28 July 2006.
  16. ^ List of awards received by the Gallery, Falmouth Art Gallery.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°09′21″N 5°04′21″W / 50.1557°N 5.0724°W / 50.1557; -5.0724