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Falmouth Art Gallery

The Bouquet , John William Waterhouse

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, Grace Gardner,[3] 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.[4]

The collection

The town's art collection, administered by the gallery's director Brian Stewart until his untimely death in 2010,[5] features works by major British artists including Sir Frank Brangwyn, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Charles Napier Hemy, Dame Laura Knight, Sir Alfred Munnings, 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]

Falmouth 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]

Falmouth also houses small but important collections of 20th-century and contemporary photography and Surrealism.[6] It has the largest collection of Lee Miller photographs outside the Lee Miller Archive [1], 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.[7]

Recent exhibitions

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.[8]

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[9]
Awards and recognition

Falmouth Art Gallery has been nominated for or won 15 major awards including The Guardian newspaper Kids in Museums Award 2006 (Winner)[10] and the Gulbenkian Prize, Britain's most prestigious arts award.[11]

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.

"Major collection given to Falmouth Art Gallery via Art Fund bequest". The Art Fund. 8 June 2009.
For a more detailed summary of the history of the Gallery, see the Acquisitions and Disposals Policy (2008), available online.
Note on Grace Gardner and her pictures, Falmouth Art Gallery.
"The Origins of the Collection". Falmouth Art Gallery.
Birkett, Dea (23 December 2010). "Brian Stewart obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
"Surrealists Collection". Falmouth Art Gallery.
"Masters of Photography". Falmouth Art Gallery.
Archive of Seasonal Exhibitions 2003–2008, Falmouth Art Gallery.
Artists A–Z, Falmouth Art Gallery.
Caroline Lewis, "Falmouth Art Gallery wins Guardian Family Friendly Award 2006, Culture 24, 28 July 2006.
List of awards received by the Gallery, Falmouth Art Gallery.

External links

Falmouth Art Gallery website
"Mums go Wild in Cornwall: A Cornish gallery's collaboration with a mother and toddlers' support group is providing invaluable support for young mums – not to mention inspiration for future generations of budding artists" by Louise Tickle guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 6 January 2009
"Wild Mums" project on the Guardian website pictures

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