The museum is one of seven venues looked after by the Moonta branch of the National Trust of South Australia. It is located in the former Moonta Mines Model School, erected in 1878.
The school remained an active and important centre for the Moonta Mines community for ninety years and closed in 1968. The museum which now tells the story of Cornish pioneers who came to South Australia for the copper mines 1861-1923. It has 14 rooms and houses thematic displays on the Cornish miners’ lifestyles – mining, lodges and friendly societies, sports and pastimes, death and hardship, extensive displays of costumes, china, silverware, photographs and memorabilia and a classroom furnished in the c.1900 style.
The Moonta Branch of National Trust SA was established in 1964 to preserve the local mining history, buildings and artifacts and to conserve the heritage listed Moonta Mines area for future generations. From humble beginnings the branch has grown to become one of the largest in South Australia.
The other venues cared for by its dedicated band of volunteers are: the Moonta Mines Sweet Shop; Hughes Engine House; Richmans Engine House; School of Mines/Resource Centre; Miner’s Cottage & Garden; and Moonta tourist railway. There are also Moonta Mines walking trails.