Museums and Art Galleries
York is well provided for in the way of museums and art galleries. In addition to the places listed below, most of York's historic churches are open to visitors. Please remember, though, that they are nearly all still used as places of worship, so please respect them for this.
Where possible, we have provided links to web sites for the museums and art galleries. These sites will usually contain information on opening times, admission charges and special exhibitions.
History of York - this website, initiated by the York Museums Trust, provides an excellent introduction and background to what you will find in many of the museums in York. The "Timeline" on the site is well worth exploring.
York Castle Museum - Housed in the city`s old prison buildings, the museum also gives intriguing glimpses of the prison life of 200 years ago. Look out for the centuries-old graffiti still on the walls as you stare through the bars into dingy cells! Continuing the real-life experience, you can walk down a genuine cobbled Victorian street, peer into replica shop windows, call at the Victorian police station and Edwardian pub, and step into family living rooms recreated from centuries ago.
The Yorkshire Museum - The museum lies in the shadow of St Mary's Abbey, once the north's wealthiest abbey, and near a Roman fortress wall. It is an imposing Doric-style building commanding a spectacular view of landscaped gardens which retain the atmosphere of York's unique past. The site covers 10 acres of botanical gardens and is the home to a 15th century timber-framed guest-house - better known as The Hospitium. It covers 1000 years of Yorkshire's heritage. You can view elegant Roman jewellery, impressive mosaics and Anglo-Saxon silver. Viking treasures include a spectacular warrior stone, swords, battle-axes and a silk cap.
York City Art Gallery - York City Art Gallery's internationally renowned collection spans seven centuries of painting in western Europe and has works representing the most important art movements of that time. The gallery is housed in an Italian Renaissance-style building designed by Edward Taylor and completed in 1879. The collections on view include pictures by Parmigianino and Bellotto, Levy and Reynolds, Frith and Boudin, Lowry and Nash and nudes by Etty. An outstanding collection of 20th-century studio pottery is also on view with fine examples from Staite Murray, Leach and Hamada.
National Railway Museum - The National Railway Museum is the largest railway museum in the world, boasting a host of railway icons and literally millions of artefacts. Its vast collection tells the story of the railway from Rocket to Eurostar.
The Jorvic Viking Centre - The Jorvik Viking Centre is unique, once experienced - never forgotten. It is built on the exact site of a huge archaeological dig. Here the York Archaeological Trust found the amazingly well preserved remains of part of the Viking City of Jorvik cocooned in wet mud (and therefore perfectly preserved) for over 1,000 years. A massive range of detailed, often microscopic evidence was recovered and has been used to recreate (in intricate detail) every last aspect of everyday life. This is no waxworks, this is the closest you'll ever get to time travel, the sights, the sounds and even the very smells of Jorvik in 948 AD. Starting from the moment you arrive at our door, Viking inhabitants of the York of 1,000 years ago will be eager to tell you the best place to buy wooden bowls, or bone skates, and give you a few insights into the City in their day, as well as preparing you for your journey back in time. Children will love to dress up for their journey as or a raider (complete with sword). Then your party can start the journey by descending the stairs into the very bowels of York, climbing down to Viking levels; to the level of York's streets as they were in 948 before they were buried beneath all the rubbish of subsequent generations.
The York Archaeological Trust - is responsible for the discovery, preservation and exhibition of many of York's historic sites. Visit their web site for full details.
York Dungeon - "Deep in the heart of historic York, buried beneath its very paving stones, lies the North's most chillingly famous museum of horror. The York Dungeon brings more than 2,000 years of gruesomely authentic history vividly back to life and death. As you delve into tile darkest chapters of our grim and bloody past, recreated in all its dreadful detail, remember: everything you experience really happened. A warning - in the Dungeon's dark catacombs it always pays to keep your wits about you. The 'exhibits' have an unnerving habit of coming back to life... "
York Minster - Not a museum, but with many museum-like areas (including paying areas!). One of the prime tourist destinations in York, the Minster's web site provides valuable information in over 120 web pages.
Micklegate Bar Museum - set into the City Walls at, of course, Micklegate Bar, this small museum has a range of exhibits covering 800 years of York's turbulent history. Since the Bar was traditionally where the heads of execution victims were displayed, part of the museum is a memorial to those who lost their heads here. There's also a section showing what it was like when the Bar was used as private accomodation.
Yorkshire Air Museum - Located near Elvington, 5 miles from York's city centre, this amateur-inspired museum has gone from strength to strength. The aim of the Museum is to preserve part of a typical wartime airfield as a memorial to the Allied air and ground crews who served in World War II. See the only complete Halifax in the world. The Mosquito re-build; and one of the last Lightnings. The Buccaneer, (Gulf War), Hunter, Canberra, JP, the Victor tanker 'Lusty Lindy', Mirage IIIE and other aircraft. Enter the authentically restored Flying Control Tower, visit the 609 (WR) Squadron room, the Air Gunners' display, the uniform and Royal Observer Corps. displays. Enjoy the Blackburn Heritage collection and other equipment and artifacts on displays.
York Model Railway Museum - Situated next to the Railway Station and dubbed York's Biggest Smallest Attraction, York Model Railway offers something for everyone. More than 250,000 visitors have enjoyed the excitement of the land that took over 10,000 hours to build. Almost a third of a mile of '00' gauge track - equivalent of 25 real miles travels through town, country and dockland with the intercity trains travelling an amazing 13 miles a day. Up to fourteen trains run at any one time, intercities modern diesels, freight trains and occasionally, the Orient Express and the Royal Train. In addition a stunning 'N' gauge model of a Bavarian town fascinates visitors with its tiny vehicles and people. Time flies as day turns to night every three minutes and interactive buttons allow our guests to become involved in the operation of the exhibition. More info here