Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England and it is well known for its innovative discoveries and historical significance. Did you know that this is where the first steam locomotive in the world was made, or that it is home to the oldest running commercial railway on the globe? It was even home to the very first motion pictures back in 1888! Leeds is also the birthplace of numerous world-renowned authors, architects, artists and creators that make it a fascinating place to live or just to visit.
As you can tell, Leeds has contributed a lot of ideas to the world and there is so much that you can learn about the city and its people. If you ever find yourself in the town you should take a little tour around the many museums and art galleries that it has! Before heading out to shop, dine and explore the city, find a safe place where you can leave your luggage in Leeds. Carrying large items or backpacks will only slow down your adventure.
The Royal Armouries Museum
The Royal Armouries is a huge Leeds museum that focuses on weapons and artifacts from the wars in England. There are about 70,000 fascinating items for you to admire, including a collection of armor, weapons and artillery all dating between the times of antiquity to today. Although you will get to learn a lot about the history of the war anyone can enjoy the exhibits, even if you aren't a history buff.
Some of the things in the museum's collection include bullets, pistols, knives, uniforms, chainmail armor, swords, helmets, and even armor used by horses and kings. You will also get the opportunity to see drawings and paintings that represent what life was like for those in the war. Sometimes the Royal Armouries' Hall of Steel hosts live performances and shows, like jousting competitions!
Address: Want to check it out for yourself? Make your way to Armouries Dr, Leeds LS10 1LT, United Kingdom.
Leeds City Museum
The Leeds City Museum is one of the best museums in the area and has been a part of the city for a while now since it was first opened back in 1821. Inside you will find ancient items and displays from a wide variety of topics, from million year old dinosaur poop to an ancient mummy that is 3,000 years old! Overall, the artifacts found in the different areas in the museum span over 450 million years of time. In total, the museum has six galleries split up over four floors so there is quite a lot for you to see.
The museum's Life on Earth section has a massive collection of nearly 800,000 specimens on its own! This includes skeletons from animals that are still present today as well as extinct species. Visitors will also get a history lesson on Leeds itself and how it came to be the city that we love today. You can spend hours exploring the different exhibitions and it is a fantastic place for the whole family, especially with the interactive exhibits, film screenings and events that keep you engaged.
Address: Their address is Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH, United Kingdom.
Abbey House Museum
Are you ready to be taken on a journey back in time? The Abbey House Museum can bring you way back to the Victorian Era. Here you can take a stroll down an old street that was recreated to resemble the time period, as well as a 19th century high street called Stephen Harding Gate where you can go shopping. There is also an area upstairs called the Childhood Galleries that houses a collection of vintage dolls and children's toys.
If you want to get the real Victorian experience you should also check out the Hark to Rover Inn where they've recreated an old drinking house! Aside from being a really cool experience, you will also get to learn about the social division that existed between the rich and the poor during this time. It is a great experience for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Address: Pay them a visit at Abbey Walk, Abbey Rd, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH, United Kingdom.
Thackray Museum of Medicine
If medical history happens to be your passion then this will definitely be your favorite Leeds museum. The trip will be fun and educational, and there are quite a few different areas to explore. There are nine separate galleries each offering a unique interactive experience and at the end of your visit, you will be more knowledgeable about the medicinal practices from the Victorian times.
While you are here you will get to look at tens of thousands of old objects and artifacts, and some of them might surprise you! Our medicinal sector has evolved a lot over the years and this museum really showcases that. When you buy a ticket it is valid for a whole year, so if you ever find yourself in the city again you can stop by without having to pay!
Address: To get there just make your way to 141 Beckett St, Harehills, Leeds LS9 7LN, United Kingdom.
Middleton Railway Museum
Remember when we mentioned that this city is home to the oldest working railway? This Leeds museum is dedicated to that and you can learn all about the trains that have been running since way back in 1758. As you travel through the museum you will also get to learn a bit about the industrial revolution and the heritage of the city during that time.
On site there is even a working train that can bring you on a tour around Middleton Park! You will have to pay for a ride but it is worth the extra cost. This is a family friendly museum that is usually very popular with kids who love to see all of the amazing locomotives from throughout the years, but grown ups can have a blast too!
Address: Ready to see some cool trains? Make your way to Railway Trust Ltd, The Middleton, Moor Rd, Hunslet, Leeds LS10 2JQ, United Kingdom.
National Coal Mining Museum
You might not know that coal mining holds an important spot in the history of Leeds, and this museum is the perfect place to learn more about it! You can experience the centuries old story of coal miners hands on by descending underground while wearing a hard hat for safety, of course. If you aren't a fan of tight spaces or caves you can stay upstairs where there are lots of fascinating displays for you to discover.
The museum boasts a collection of mining-related exhibits and artifacts, as well as artworks and photographs that can give you a good idea of what working in the mines was like. Make sure that you visit this Leeds museum since it is also a charity that is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the city.
Address: It is situated outside of the city center at Caphouse Colliery, New Rd, Overton, Wakefield WF4 4RH, United Kingdom.
Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills
For Leeds, the Industrial Revolution was a very important time and it was responsible for some big changes within the city. This museum is appropriately housed in what was once the biggest functioning mill in the whole world; the Armley Mills. Today, you can visit this impressive mill from 1805 to learn all about the 18th and 19th centuries in Leeds.
On site you will find hundreds of artifacts as well as restored and working machinery. This ranges from heavy engineering equipment to textile machinery and railway parts, and you can get a look first-hand at what the working conditions and hours were like for those who worked these jobs.
Address: The address of the Leeds Industrial Museum is Canal Rd, Armley, Leeds LS12 2QF, United Kingdom, right by the River Aire.
Instead of just looking at ancient artifacts and photos, this museum will give you the chance to step inside an old building that dates back to 1152. Located on the coast of River Aire, this Cistercian monastery from foregone times stands as one of the best remaining medieval structures of its kind in all of Britain.
Come admire its gorgeous ruins, which have sparked inspiration in artists who have previously visited the site, like JMW Turner. Fun fact; Kirkstall Abbey was used as the backdrop for the Gothic Film Festival in Yorkshire back in 2013!
Address: You will find Kirkstall Abbey at Abbey Rd, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH, United Kingdom, just a short walk away from the Kirkstall Abbey House Museum!
M&S Company Archive
This one is different than the other Leeds museums; it is completely dedicated to the heritage and history of the Marks and Spencer brand! Did you know that they first began as a little penny bazaar right here in Kirkgate Market? Now, the brand has expanded to be one of the biggest and most famous brands in Leeds retail and you can see how it all happened in this museum's exhibits.
Just a 10 minute walk from Leeds Station, the museum houses nearly 71,000 objects spanning from way back in 1884 to today. As you walk through all of the displays you will get to see old advertisements, photographs, and documents, and even some of the company's original merchandise and packaging! It can be fun to see not only how the brand has changed over the years, but how fashion and style have evolved as well.
Address: Pay them a visit at the University of Leeds, Michael Marks Building, Woodhouse, Leeds LS2 9LP, United Kingdom.
The Thwaite Mills have a deep-running history that began way back in 1641, although the mills that you will see today were actually rebuilt in the 19th century. The building has been completely restored and still functions today, drawing power from the River Aire that it sits on.
If you visit during its opening hours you will get to discover how the mill worked, what it was like to work here, and what kinds of materials it used to make. This includes putty, fine China and chalk! The island that houses the mill was self-sufficient back in this time, and if you extend your visit to the Thwaite House you will get to see where the mill's manager and staff lived.
Address: The complete address is Thwaite Ln, Leeds LS10 1RP, United Kingdom.
What are the best free museums in Leeds?
The Royal Armouries Museum
If you want to visit these museums in Leeds but are traveling on a budget there is no need to worry because some of them offer free admission! This includes the Royal Armouries Museum, so stop by while you are in the city.
Middleton Railway Museum
Another fantastic option when you are looking for ways to spend your time in Leeds without spending money is the Middleton Railway Museum. Entry to all of the exhibitions is free, except for the train ride.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Leeds?
Leeds City Museum
If you find yourself in the city center of Leeds you will probably notice several museums around the area. The Leeds City Museum is one of them and we strongly suggest checking it out to learn more about the lives and history of this city and its people!
M&S Company Archive
The M&S Company Archive can also be found near the heart of the city. Getting to it will be a breeze, and it is a fun activity to keep in mind when you are looking for something to do in Downtown Leeds.
Are there any cheap museums in Leeds?
Some of the Leeds art galleries and museums can be expensive, but many of them are actually quite affordable. The Thwaite Watermill offers reasonably priced admission at about £5 for adults and £2.75 for kids. You can also get a discount if you buy the family package.
Abbey House Museum
Another option for cheap museums in Leeds is the Abbey House Museum. You can visit the museum and all of its attractions for around £6 for adults and £3 for kids!
Visiting Museums in Leeds, UK
Each city has a story to tell, and Leeds is no different. From its contribution to the Industrial Revolution to the wide world of natural history and science, this city offers an array of different topics and themes that you can explore in its galleries and museums. Come see what kind of treasures are hidden behind their doors!