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Isles of Scilly Museum

outside isles of scilly museum

Explore the Scillonian History at the Isles of Scilly Museum

Situated 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall lies the enchanting Isles of Scilly archipelago. Consisting of over 150 tiny islands, it possesses a unique culture, rugged beauty and fascinating history well worth discovering.

At the heart of telling the Scillonian story lies the excellent Museum of the Isles of Scilly on the main island of St Mary’s. Whether visiting the islands already or planning a trip, don’t miss this little gem of museum. Its interactive displays and exhibits vividly showcase life on these remote isles through the years.

Here’s everything you need to know for a visit with the family

isles of scilly museum inside

Getting There

To visit the museum, you’ll first need to get across to the Isles of Scilly! The quickest way is catching a passenger ferry or plane from Penzance in mainland Cornwall.

The scenic boat crossing takes about 2.5 hours aboard the Scillonian III passenger ferry. It runs frequently from March through October. Flights get you there in 15 minutes on a light aircraft or helicopter service from Penzance Heliport or Land’s End Airport.

Once you arrive at St Mary’s Harbour on Scilly, the museum sits just a short 150 metre stroll away. It can’t be missed next to the main town beach.

Opening Times & Tickets

The Isles of Scilly Museum is open 6 days a week from April until October:

April – June: 10am – 4:30pm (Closed Saturday) July – September: 10am – 4:30pm October: 10am – 2pm

Adult tickets cost £3.50, Children are £1, and Family tickets £8. Special themed event days often run during peak season.

Off season between November and March, visiting is still possible by prior appointment only. Get in touch directly with them to arrange this.

isles of scilly museum

Exhibitions & Highlights

Spread over two floors, the museum packs in loads of curiosities and interactive exhibits in a cosy space. Wander through themed zones depicting island life through history from the stone age until present day Scilly.

Some of the top highlights your family shouldn’t miss include:

Shipwreck Gallery – Scilly’s dangerous waters have claimed over 140 shipwrecks in its seas! This new gallery showcases salvaged treasures and tells the tales behind them. Don’t miss the spooky ship’s figurehead!

Lighthouse Exhibition – Learn how crucial lighthouses have been guiding seafarers safely to Scilly for centuries. Includes wrecking stories and chances to dress up as a lighthouse keeper.

Island Wildlife Zone – Discover Scilly’s incredible array of sea birds, plants and marine life. Spot local species, handle artefacts and take brass rubbings.

Farming & Flower Growing – See recreated rooms depicting how locals have made a living from flower farming and other industries across Scilly’s islands. Great vintage photos too!

Special Events Programme – Storytelling days, guided walks, crafts, poetry and more run during summer. Special teen events happen monthly too like beach cleans and invention challenges!

boats in ios museum

Archaelogy at the Isles of Scilly Museum

A cornerstone of the museum’s collection is its archaeological exhibits. The Isles of Scilly boast a rich prehistoric heritage, with evidence of human activity dating back to the Neolithic period. The museum showcases artifacts ranging from Stone Age tools to Bronze Age burial objects, providing a fascinating look into the lives of the ancient inhabitants. Among the highlights are the remarkably preserved items recovered from burial sites, shedding light on burial rituals and the daily lives of these early island dwellers.

isles of scilly museum interior

Insider Tips

A notable aspect of the Isles of Scilly Museum is its commitment to environmental education. The islands are home to a unique ecosystem, and the museum actively engages visitors in understanding and appreciating the local flora and fauna. Educational programs, interactive exhibits, and information about conservation efforts contribute to the museum’s role as a steward of the islands’ natural heritage.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Isles of Scilly Museum often hosts temporary displays and events, ensuring that each visit offers something new and exciting. The museum actively involves the community, encouraging locals to contribute to the ongoing narrative of the Isles of Scilly.

cutters on st marys beach

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to explore the entire museum? – The average visit takes around 1 to 1.5 hours, but the duration may vary depending on individual interests and the level of detail you wish to explore.

Is the museum accessible for visitors with disabilities? – The museum is committed to accessibility. There are ramps and facilities for wheelchair users and the staff will be available to help if needed.

Are dogs allowed? – No, only assitance dogs are allowed in the Isles of Scilly Museum.

Other nearby locations

After your visit to the Museum, you might want to think about some of the following places to visit:

  • Land’s End – Around 45 minutes by ferry from St Mary’s plus onward travel, Land’s End headland has stunning cliffside views and coastal scenery in mainland Cornwall. Spot landmarks like Dr Syntax’s Head or Longships Lighthouse.
  • Porthcressa Beach, St Mary’s – One of the most popular beaches in Scilly due to its beautiful white sand, tropical azure waters and perfect swimming conditions located conveniently near Hugh Town.
  • Tresco Abbey Gardens – Take a short boat trip to car-free Tresco to explore the breathtaking sub-tropical Abbey Gardens, home to exotic plants from 80 countries, many of which rarely flower outdoors in the UK.
  • St Martin’s Vineyard – Catch a boat to St Martin’s, the northernmost inhabited island, to enjoy vineyard tours and tastings showcasing the first vineyard planted in Scilly producing white wines influenced by the unique terroir.
  • St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association – Take wildlife spotting or island hopping boat trips to uninhabited islands like Teän or the Western Rocks, or visit neighbouring islands St Martin’s, Tresco or Bryher on relaxing scenic cruises.
  • Old Town Church, St Mary’s – One of Scilly’s oldest buildings, this picturesque church stands surrounded by palms and succulents in Old Town’s peaceful area. Look inside for gravestones salvaged from shipwrecks.
  • Porth Hellick Pool – Found on the southern tip of St Mary’s, take the coastal path to swim or snorkel in this unique sea-water pool naturally carved into the rocks, covered only at very high tides.

Affordable, friendly and crammed full of intrigue, the Isles of Scilly Museum makes for a fabulous indoor pitstop during island-hopping adventures. By the time you leave, you’ll be an expert on Scilly’s rich history alongside gaining inspiration to explore more of these beautiful isles!

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