After an 18-month, multimillion-pound refit, St Ives' most illustrious gallery reopened its doors, complete with a monumental exhibition space that's been added to the museum's original, spiral-shaped core. Focusing on the coterie of experimental artists who congregated at St Ives after the WWII and turned the little seaside town into a mecca of modern art, the museum showcases the work of luminaries such as Barbara Hepworth, Terry Frost, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron in luminous, white-walled surroundings.
The original museum was built in 2000, a striking concrete-and-glass curl set back from the sands of Porthmeor Beach. This part of the museum explores the St Ives story and its role in the development of modern art, with a revolving collection of works by both the well-known artists (Hepworth, Nicholson, Lanyon and so on) along with more unfamiliar names such as Naum Gabo and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.
The new exhibition space has added a huge, open, 500-sq-metre gallery to the original building, Filled with natural light and supported by hefty steel beams running across the space (capable of supporting elephants and a double-decker bus, apparently), it's designed to host an annual exhibition of work by one contemporary artist, to serve as a contextual counterpoint to the main gallery's collection. Whatever you make of the work on show, the gallery itself certainly makes a statement.
There's also a cafe with cracking views over the beach.