The lady and the tickling machine

The venue

If you thought Barbara Hepworth was solely responsible for bringing modern art to Cornwall, think again. Falmouth has a long tradition as an artistic centre, and boasts an impressive list of members of the Royal Academy. The gallery is in a grey slate Victorian building in the centre. The exterior, which dates back to the 1890s, belies the modern gallery within, which was renovated with lottery funds in 1996. There is a stirring oil painting of Falmouth by William Ingram on the staircase. The gallery makes the most of its limited space, displaying 120 works from its collection across three rooms.

Something for children

The gallery has an ethos of getting children involved in art, and tables, crayons and places to draw are spread around the exhibition space. The tickling machine, a hand-wound contraption involving a figure clamped in stocks, is a sure-fire hit. On Saturdays, and some school holiday weekdays, the gallery runs free children's workshops. The best children's work is displayed to the same standard as that of Henry Moore.

Something for adults

Works by major British artists including John William Waterhouse and Charles Napier Hemy. The permanent collection boasts two outstanding works: Waterhouse's study for the Lady of Shalott, and Henry Scott Tuke's The Message, featuring his cottage in Falmouth. From 13 November the artist Grace Gardner exhibits a selection from her collection of works by 20th century Cornish artists.


The gallery does not have a café, but the nearby Quench juice café serves panini and baguettes.


The small gallery shop boasts some high quality items. In addition to the usual selection of prints of the works on display, there is locally made pottery and jewellery, costing £6 to £50, and coloured glass tiles. There are paper automatons for the children, priced at £2. The tickling machine is yours for £700.

Admission and access

The museum is open 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday, closed on Sundays. Entry is free. The museum has full disabled access. Wheelchair and pushchair entry is via Webber Street.

How to get there

Falmouth Art Gallery, Municipal Buildings, The Moor, Falmouth TR11 2RT. Tel: 01326 313863, By car: take the M5, the A30 and then the A39 for Falmouth. There is short stay and disabled parking on The Moor. Long stay parking on Quarry Hill, above the museum. By public transport: contact National Rail (08457 484950) for details of train services to and from Falmouth.