Two hundred years ago next month, a group of people gathered at the County Library in Truro and by the time they left a few hours later, they had established a society of learning and culture that still exists and thrives today.

The Royal Institution of Cornwall (RIC) runs the Royal Cornwall Museum and the Courtney Library which are both housed in the grade II listed building in River Street that the RIC has owned since 1919.

More than half a million objects have been collected and exhibited there – showcasing the outstanding contributions Cornwall has made over the centuries to both science and the arts.

A year-long celebration of the institution is to be held and will be launched on Saturday, February 10.

“It’s a measure of the extraordinary ferment of activity in Cornwall in the early 19th century that the RIC was the first such body to be established outside Britain’s major cities," said Philip Marsden, RIC trustee and celebrated author.

“The Industrial Revolution had produced a hunger for Cornwall’s minerals and, to those who devised efficient ways to extract the, to smelt and transport them, the returns were vast.”

One of the RIC's first actions, in 1818, was to buy equipment for a laboratory which analysed minerals. Samples were left of the different rocks brought in for assessment by those involved in the local mines and so the RIC’s mineral collection was born.

The museum’s director, Ian Wall, said: “RIC 200 is a year-long celebration of the past, present and future of the institution and we’re planning a range of exhibitions and events to showcase the different ways in which Cornwall has made an impact on the world.

“Cornwall’s 450 recorded minerals, for example, represent 15 per cent of all those found in the world – and more than a third of them are deemed ‘rare’ or ‘ultra-rare’.

“There’s a lot to be extremely proud of in our past, but the RIC isn’t just about looking after our heritage, it’s about helping to forge our future too through inspiration and education. Our workshops, lectures and activities reflect our ongoing aim and vision and we look forward to opening our doors to thousands of visitors in 2018.”

The museum is currently closed in preparation for the 200 launch and will re-open to the public on February 6.

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