The Barge House Visitor Centre is located on the harbourfront. This facility opened in 2016 and was designed and built in partnership with the National Trust, and is a focal point for all of our visitors, in particular those who are unable to take the climb to the castle, or around the garden. The Barge House offers a window into the beauty and spirit of the Mount, and provides valuable insight into the Mount’s history and geography.
The Barge House is home to a permanent exhibition and a short film sharing the details of island life for the 35-strong community who live and work, all year round, on St Michael’s Mount. Using stories of the people that have lived on the island in the past, as well as stories of today’s islanders and their experiences, visitors can glimpse into the realities of Island Life and leave with a renewed sense of appreciation and understanding of what it really entails.
The centre piece of the visitor centre is a bronze cast tactile model of the island, designed by local sculptural artist Tom Leaper. The model was commissioned to enable all our visitors to gain an understanding and appreciation of the island, its scale and intricacies and their position in relation to the island as a whole. Sitting on a plinth at a height comfortable for those standing, but also allowing wheelchair users to get close enough to touch and experience the model, it features points of interest as well as topographical and geological references. Using the data provided by a 3d survey of the island, the model is an accurate representation of St Michael’s Mount which visitors can touch, feel, and explore with their hands and eyes.
The material used to create the model is durable enough for the hundreds of thousands of hands that will touch and explore it every year. Read more about Tom Leaper and the making of the model on our blog.
Designed by Skellon Studio and Planning Unit their brief was to create a space where visitors could be welcomed, orient themselves and plan their visit, learn about the history of the Mount and gain an insight into island life. A key requirement was also to give visitors with limited mobility, who would be unable to reach the more rugged upper limits of the Mount, a meaningful experience of its geography and history. Find out more about the design of the Barge House – including its innovative flood resistant design.