On the same date that the Royal Institution of Cornwall (RIC) came into being in 1818, the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro held a special event to celebrate the organisation’s 200-year history.

The Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel Edward Bolitho, and chief executive of Cornwall Council, Kate Kennally, were among the guests, members and friends given the opportunity of being the first people, other than staff and contractors, to see the new exhibitions and layout.

Making the most of the museum’s impressive architecture, the re-design creates a feeling of light and space. There is a large 1818 map of Cornwall across the floor of the Main Gallery, new lighting and layout and fascinating objects depicting Cornish history – some of which can be touched. Timelines and touch screen technology have also been introduced to make the visitor experience interactive and fun.

Other new displays include a ‘secret life of objects’ store to showcase the difference conservation work makes and where adults and children can try their hand at putting a skeleton together; a gallery that is themed around Cornwall’s strong sense of place; a Poldark’s Cornwall exhibition that will, in the spring, be replaced by local children’s art work and another large gallery dedicated to worldwide wonders.

“Cornwall has made its global mark in many different ways but, thanks to collectors, the world has also come to Cornwall in the last two centuries,” said collections development manager Dr Jayne Wackett. “Before the age of TV and the internet, their adventures meant Cornish people were able to find out about other cultures.

"Even today, when most of us can tap on a screen to source photos and videos, it’s still a thrill to gaze at exhibits like the actual leg of an extinct giant bird called the moa, marvel at the intricate beauty of an eastern wedding garment and look closely at Lord Byron’s sword. One wall is also covered floor to ceiling with significant works of art in the salon style much used two centuries ago.”

Following speeches by museum director Ian Wall and a performance by trustees Bert Biscoe and Mark Chanter, Colonel Bolitho cut an anniversary cake.

The museum is open to the public from 10am to 4.45pm, Tuesday to Sunday. For more information, visit royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk.