York Museum Guide

Looking at life as others lived it

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In one sense, the whole of York is a kind of museum, a living insight into the past that continues to be a thriving and evolving present-day city. So it is not surprising that the city is also home to a number of more conventional museums.

York museums specialise in social history. They deal with the past in an accessible, often hands-on way, which makes them ideal for visitors of all ages.

  • At the National Railway Museum you can climb on the exhibits.
  • At the Castle Museum you can walk down a nineteenth century street.
  • At the Yorkshire Museum children can try on period costumes.
  • DIG gives its young visitors the chance to discover objects using archaeological techniques.
  • At Barley Hall you can wander round re-created medieval rooms and touch what you like.
  • And York’s Chocolate Story gives an experience of the city’s sweet history, guided by greeters in period costume.
  • Jorvik allows you to ride through a viking village, with all its sights, sounds and smells.
  • Fairfax House is a careful re-creation of a Georgian upper class residence, including sumptuous tables groaning with food of the period.
  • The original wood-timbered Merchant Adventurers’ Hall gives insights into the commercial life and values of the Middle Ages.
  • The Monks of Micklegate is a display about York’s medieval monasticism (complete with stocks.
  • The Bar Convent Museum offers a perspective on the history and persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in the city.

In fact, the boundaries between historical museum and entertainment can become blurred, as at York Dungeon, where gruesome incidents from the city’s history are milked for all they’re worth as spectacle.

===> Explore more local itineraries via the RELATED links below.

Two further small museums round off the city’s museum offering, both located within bars of the city: The Richard III Experience (Monk Bar) and The Henry VII Experience (Micklegate Bar), both offering accessible historical insights for visitors.

Winners of the popularity stakes amongst kids are: DIG (playing amateur archaeologists and digging), Jorvik (sights, sounds – and smells!), York’s Chocolate Story (a fun look at a favourite food), Barley Hall (touching things and seeing how horrid school was in medieval times).

If you are interested in particular periods, here is grouping of museums according to their main specialisms:
Roman, Anglo Saxon: The Yorkshire Museum
Viking: Jorvik Viking Centre
Medieval: Barley Hall, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Bar Convent Museum, The Monks of Micklegate
Georgian: Fairfax House
Victorian and later: Castle Museum, National Railway Museum, York Chocolate Experience

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