The Royal Cornwall Museum was founded in 1818 to promote excellence in science and art and to forward the world-leading industries that Cornwall was known for. The Grade II Listed building which has housed the RIC since 1919 was built in 1845 as the Truro Savings Bank.
In 1986 the RIC acquired the adjacent Grade II Listed Truro Baptist Chapel and in 1989 following an architectural competition the Royal Institution of Cornwall commissioned Poynton Bradbury Wynter Cole Architects to prepare a masterplan for the museum's long-term expansion.
The project was carried out in four phases over a nine-year period and entailed a threefold enlargement of the original museum and art gallery. The first phase involved the conversion of the adjacent former Baptist Chapel into additional gallery and exhibition space. This was followed by a new ‘backstage’ tower of stores and workshops; and later by significant internal alterations and improvements to the main museum building.
A key architectural move was the joining of the original Bank building with the former Baptist Chapel via a modern ashlar granite link. Opting for a solid link rather than the more ubiquitous glazed typology, the recessed and thoughtfully understated design respects its classical neighbours through oversimplified and contemporary styling. The link provides a new light filled foyer space, shop and cafe for the museum.