The collection began in 1937 through the Old Cornwall Society and was displayed at points in the Guildhall. It opened as a museum, in the current building, in 1949. Previously run by South Kerrier District Council and Cornwall Council, management of the museum was taken over by the South Kerrier Heritage Trust in August 2013. The Trust is a local registered charity working with the community, and day to day work at the museum is largely undertaken by volunteers.
In 2018 the museum was renamed “Museum of Cornish Life” to reflect what is in the museum’s fabulous collection, not only to visitors, but funders too.