Weird and Wonderful Museums of York

Make the decision to visit York and you will have the chance to take in several wonderful museums. Indeed, stopping at just one of the following cultural institutions during your time in the city is bound to result in you having a fantastic, memorable break.

Photo by Pablo Pecora

One place that definitely stands out from the crowd is the Quilt Museum and Gallery. Located in the Peasholme Green area of the city in St Anthony’s Hall, this is the first British museum to be dedicated entirely to textile art and quiltmaking.


By browsing the hundreds of items in the venue’s permanent collection, you’ll see a range of clothing and textiles, including a silk coverlet made in 1718, which is the earliest known example of dated British patchwork, and an 18th century corded quilted baby’s cap.

Several temporary exhibitions are also held here throughout the year, so there should always be something new to see with every visit.

Open every day of the week, with the exception of Sundays, from 10:00 to 16:00, admission for adults is £6 and £5 for concessions.

Alternatively, you might want to visit the Richard III Museum during your break. This museum offers a fascinating insight into the life of the English king, who ruled between 1483 and 1485.

Housed in Monk Bar, the tallest of the numerous medieval gatehouses that surround central York, the exhibition is presented as a trial of the monarch and considers whether or not he was behind the deaths of Edward IV’s two young sons in 1483. You’ll be presented with a range of historical evidence and get the chance to decide whether you think he was guilty of the alleged crime.

Photo by Tom Blackwell

There are three rooms for you to explore in the 14th century property, and although it was originally built as a guardhouse it has also been used as a police station and a prison, while a number of executions took place in the uppermost chamber.

The museum is a particularly intriguing place to visit as it has a rare example of a working ancient portcullis. You can even have a go at operating it yourself!

Adults wishing to enter the Richard III Museum will have to pay an entrance fee of £2.50, while admission for senior citizens and concessions is £1.50. Children, however, can see the exhibits here for free.

You can also get an insight into what life in York was like in the Middle Ages by visiting the Micklegate Bar Museum. Situated in one of the city’s main gatehouses, this once was the entrance point for reigning monarchs visiting on horseback.

However, it also served a much more gruesome purpose during medieval times, as it was where the heads of executed traitors and criminals were displayed for all to see.

Photo by Kay Williams

Visit the museum, which lies just off Nunnery Lane, today and you’ll be able to find out more about these two elements of the institution’s history and also gain an insight into the battles and uprisings that have taken place in York over the years.


Admission for adults and concessions is £3.50 and £2.50 respectively, although children visiting with a paying adult can enter for free. Upon making your payment you will be entitled to 12 months’ free admission to the attraction, so if you plan on visiting York again in the near future make sure you keep hold of your ticket!

But if you’re looking for something a bit more contemporary, yet no less exciting, the York Model Railway Museum could be the place for you. Situated in Tea Room Square next to the National Rail Museum, here you’ll find a fascinating model railway exhibition.

Photo by Graham Chandler

Consisting of a 320-metre track and decorated with hundreds of miniature trees, trucks and cars, this incredibly lifelike display sees up to 14 trains run at any given time, with the Intercity 125 and the Orient Express among the models you may see hurtling along.

There’s also the chance to get hands-on with the exhibit as several interactive buttons allow you to control the flow of traffic.

Whatever your interests, with so many fantastic and unusual museums to visit you can be confident that a trip to York will prove to be a memorable and fun experience.

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