The written history of Yorkshire begins way back in 71 AD when the Romans arrived and built forts in both Doncaster and York. Having been occupied for so many years and played central roles in some of Britain’s most important historical events, it’s no surprise that Yorkshire is home to some of the biggest and best museums in the country. The diverse array of fascinating history museums in Yorkshire cover everything from the Roman invasion and Viking settlements to maritime voyages of discovery and the evolution of engineering. Our more modern offerings are equally as educational and offer interactive learning opportunities and immersive exhibits designed to intrigue, inform and entertain minds of all ages.
If you’re looking for a day out that is both fun and educational, then you’re bound to find something on our list of, what we think, are some of the best museums in Yorkshire…
15 Fascinating Museums in Yorkshire
York Castle Museum
York Castle Museum was built on the site of William the Conqueror’s York Castle which was erected in 1068. It offers a wonderful insight into York’s fascinating past.
Set around a wonderful recreated Victorian street complete with live characters and authentic shops, you’re really transported back into 19th century Britain. There are plenty of family-friendly activities and interesting exhibitions to explore and, if you’re brave enough, you can enter the very prison cells that once held Dick Turpin.
Address: Eye of York, York, YO1 9RY
National Railway Museum
National Railway Museum in York is probably one of the most popular family days out in Yorkshire. Showcasing the history of the locomotive and the world’s excellent achievements in engineering, it offers an educational yet fun experience for people of all ages.
Learn about life on China’s railways through the photography of Wang Fuchun, discover how locomotives changed the world, step onboard real life locomotives in the Great Hall, explore life in Station Hall and relive the golden age of steam with a scenic steam train ride.
Address: Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
Learning through play is a vital part of child development and Eureka! offers precisely that. With its fun, interactive displays and excellent role-playing activities, this museum is a firm favourite with kids across the country.
Designed for kids aged 0 – 11, it has six unique zones to explore – each of which is packed with interactive exhibits perfect for little hands and inquisitive minds. Scan a pregnant woman’s tummy, stroke a wild coyote, test sounds with Orby the Alien, explore a child-sized town centre and learn about various professions at this excellent children’s museum in Yorkshire.
Address: Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE
National Science and Media Museum
Located in Bradford city centre, the National Science and Media Museum explores the impact of image and sound technologies on our modern lives. It has a whopping eight floors of galleries and houses the UK’s first IMAX cinema.
Here, you’ll find over 3 million items related to the science and culture of image and sound as well as the world’s earliest known surviving photo negative, the earliest television footage and the camera that made the first moving pictures in Britain. A truly fascinating day out for the whole family that will show you just how much technology has changed the modern world.
Address: Bradford, BD1 1NQ
Royal Armouries Museum is just a short distance away from Leeds city centre at Leeds Dock. Five floors of magnificent displays showcase hundreds of years of arms and armour from across the world.
See Henry III’s jousting lances and famous ‘Horned Helmet’, marvel at the world’s oldest surviving European horse armour, view a longbow from the wreck of the Mary Rose and enjoy authentic live displays of military and sporting skill-at-arms. Probably one of the most visited museums in Yorkshire.
Address: Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT
The Scarborough Fair Collection & Vintage Transport Museum
Graham Atkinson purchased his first steam engine and mechanical organ in the 1980’s and, as his collection grew, he required more space to display it. Fast forward a couple of decades and his collection is now open to the public and famous throughout the world.
The Scarborough Fair Collection & Vintage Transport Museum is one of the largest indoor attractions on the Yorkshire Coast. Home to fairground rides, mechanical organs, steam engines, and vintage vehicles, it offers visitors a fun trip down memory lane. Ride the galloping horses of an 1893 carousel, try your hand on the Penny Arcade and see the actual Showman’s Engine from The Iron Maiden.
Address: Flower of May Holiday Park, Lebberston Cliff, Scarborough Y011 3NU
The Yorkshire Museum
Built on the remains of St Mary’s Abbey in York, The Yorkshire Museum houses some of Britain’s greatest archaeological and geological discoveries.
Explore galleries packed with Roman artefacts including the famous Wold Newton Hoard, discover incredible Medieval treasures such as the Middleham Jewel and meet the dinosaurs and sea dragons that once roamed Yorkshire’s Jurassic world.
Address: Museum Gardens, York YO1 7FR
Yorkshire Air Museum
Located on the site of former RAF Elvington, a World War II airfield used by Allied bomber crews, Yorkshire Air Museum is one of the largest independent aviation museums in the UK.
Here, they have 15 indoor exhibitions, over 60 historic aircraft and vehicles, an indoor cockpit area, a cinema and a NAAFI restaurant. Explore the control tower, Nissen huts and squadron rooms of an authentic WWII RAF base and see the only complete Halifax Bomber in Europe!
Address: Halifax Way, Elvington, York YO41 4AU
Brontë Parsonage Museum
Founded in 1893, The Brontë Society is one of the oldest literary societies in the world and is responsible for running the much-loved Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth.
The Brontë collections at Brontë Parsonage Museum are the largest in the world and inspire writers, artists and scholars across the globe. Once home to the most famous sisters in literature, the parsonage has been perfectly preserved to allow visitors to explore and gain an insight into their everyday lives as well as see for themselves where some of their greatest novels were written.
Address: Church Street, Haworth, Haworth, Keighley BD22 8DR
Captain Cook Memorial Museum
Captain Cook first lodged at Walker’s House in 1746 as an apprentice and he returned in the winter of 1771 after his first voyage. Walker’s House in Whitby is now home to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum and is one of Whitby’s most visited attractions.
Explore the attic where Cook spent much of his time ashore with his fellow apprentices; learn more about the voyager through preserved maps, letters and documents and journey through Cook’s life from his early career in Whitby to his Voyages to the “Ends of the Earth”.
Address: Grape Lane, Whitby, YO22 4BA
Eden Camp Modern History Museum near Malton occupies a former World War II POW camp. The award-winning attraction will transport you back in time to life on the Homefront and Front Line.
Eden Camp opened in 1987 and they’ve worked in close collaboration with veterans groups to create immersive displays that trigger all the human senses. An absolute must for History fans and school-age children, this educational museum will provide you with a wealth of knowledge about wartime Britain and the heroes who led us to victory.
Address: Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6RT
Jorvik Viking Centre
Jorvik Viking Centre is one of the UK’s most popular attractions and has welcomed over 18 million visitors in the past 30 years. Between the years 1976 – 81, York Archaeological Trust unearthed the houses, workshops, and backyards of the Viking city of Jorvik and it is on this very site that the Jorvik Museum was built.
Discover artefacts taken from the 1,000-year-old houses which lie beneath the museum, learn about life in 10th century York and meet the 22 new animatronic characters on their fantastic ride experience. One of the best museums in Yorkshire for history fans!
Address: Coppergate Shopping Centre, 19 Coppergate, York YO1 9WT
National Coal Mining Museum
Based at the site of Caphouse Colliery near Wakefield, the National Coal Mining Museum provides an enjoyable and informative day out for the whole family.
Descend 140m underground to experience the harsh realities of life in Britain’s coal mines, learn about all the tools of the trade and, explore collections designed to educate about various aspects of the industry as well as the everyday lives of the coal miners.
Address: Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, Wakefield WF4 4RH
Situated in Whitby’s beautiful Pannet Park, Whitby Museum and Art Gallery is certainly worth a visit if you’re in this part of Yorkshire.
As one would expect, much of the museum is dedicated to Whitby’s maritime past and famous voyager, Captain Cook. However, it also houses collections of a wide variety of themes including coral from Australia’s reefs; some excellent examples of taxidermy, fossils and other geological and archeological finds from Yorkshire’s Jurassic Coast and some more modern displays featuring antique toys and period costumes.
Address: Pannett Park, Whitby YO21 1RE
National Emergency Services Museum
The National Emergency Services Museum opened in Sheffield in the 1980s with just a few vehicles and exhibits from the South Yorkshire area. Over time, the collections grew and the museum was granted national museum status. It now provides visitors to Sheffield an educational insight into all of the UK’s emergency services.
With 50 emergency vehicles, on-site, real Victorian Police Cells to explore and three floors of interesting exhibits, the world’s largest joint 999 museum provides up to 5 hours of educational fun for the whole family. One of the more obscure museums in Yorkshire but very interesting!
Address: Old Police/Fire Station, West Bar, Sheffield S3 8PT