The 11 Best Museums In Liverpool
If the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word Liverpool is the Beatles, it's really time to stop and have a major rethink. Yes, music and the Fab Four are an integral part of this British city's cultural heritage, but only a very small part.
From the early 17th century onwards Liverpool was one of the main ports in England so it has a long maritime history founded on the importation of tobacco, sugar, and cotton as well as being heavily involved with the British slave trade. WWI and WWII took their toll on the city as did the industrial decline of the late 20th century.
The events that influenced the city and its people are remembered in the many museums in Liverpool. Liverpool has museums dedicated to transport, its people and their culture, slavery, art, and of course, music. They all offer a fascinating insight into the historic trials, tribulations, and achievements of one of the most outstanding and characterful cities in England.
Before you head off to visit any of the museums in Liverpool you need to know that none will permit you entry if you're carrying your suitcase or any sizable bag with you. Save yourself time and the embarrassment of being refused admittance by leaving your baggage at a Bounce luggage locker in Liverpool. Once you've stowed your bags in a Bounce luggage locker you'll be free to go where you want and discover just why this city on the River Mersey is as great as it is.
The Best Museums In Liverpool
Although they're in various different locations around the city many of the best museums in Liverpool are curated by the Liverpool Museums Organization. There are frequent temporary exhibitions at several of the museums, so to make sure you don't miss out on anything double-check what's on by visiting the organization’s official website before you go.
There are no admission charges to go to most of the museums, which makes them, without a doubt, one of the best free things to do in Liverpool.
Museum of Liverpool
The Museum of Liverpool is a massive installation at the Pier Head on Liverpool Waterfront. Check out every exhibit housed here and you'll need almost a full day to do it.
The Museum of Liverpool covers a period of 10,000 years and has immense displays of archeological items recovered in the city and the surrounding area. There are extensive exhibits on major historical events, photographs, and artifacts collected from the city's varied communities, including the facade of a kosher butcher's shop and railway locomotives and carriages.
The Museum of Liverpool is open from Tuesday through to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. No reservations are required and admission is free of charge, but you can make a donation if you feel inclined.
The World Museum on William Brown Street houses incredible collections of diverse objects from around the world, an aquarium, and a planetarium. It's a fascinating museum to visit.
The World Museum is home to one of the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts and horology items in England. Don't plan on getting around the museum in an hour. It'll take a lot longer than that as there are almost two million different pieces on display that, as well as the previously mentioned, include objects relating to astronomy and outer space, natural history, and international cultures.
The World Museum is open from Tuesday through to Sunday from ten in the morning until six in the evening. No reservations are required and admission is free of charge, but any donations are happily accepted.
The Walker Art Gallery
The Walker Art Gallery is one of Liverpool's oldest and finest art galleries and houses impressive collections of artwork that have been accumulated over a 130-year period.
The gallery, located on William Brown Street, has two floors, both of which are divided into multiple exhibition rooms. Each room is dedicated to either a certain period of time, to a certain artist, or to a particular style of painting. There are many genres represented in the displayed works including baroque, Victorian, and impressionism.
The Walker Art Gallery is open to the public from 10 am to 6 pm every day apart from Monday. Admission is free.
Lady Lever Art Gallery
The Lady Lever Art Gallery is not in central Liverpool but just outside in Port Sunlight Village on the Wirral.
The gallery is in a building constructed specifically for that purpose by the man who amassed the collections it houses, William Lever.
The Lady Lever Art Gallery is home to over 20,000 items some of which make up the best collections of decorative art in England. The pieces include rare examples of Chinese and Wedgewood pottery, Roman sculptures, and Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
There's no admission fee to the gallery or the gardens that surround it, but visitors are required to make a reservation in advance of arriving. You can do this on the gallery's official webpage.
The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology is an innovative museum on Wood Street that's dedicated to digital art and media arts.
As well as displaying computer-generated artworks, animated art, 3D art, and even video games, the museum has a cinema where they show art-related films. If you're looking for things to do with kids in Liverpool, FACT is perfect as many of the digital displays are child-oriented hands-on activities.
The galleries at the FACT are open to the general public from Wednesday to Sunday from eleven in the morning until six in the evening. The cinema has separate opening hours and operates seven days of the week from midday to ten at night. All activities, including the cinema, are free.
Museums In Liverpool's Royal Albert Dock
Merseyside Maritime Museum
The Merseyside Maritime Museum, located in the Royal Albert Dock area on the waterfront, is the museum to visit if you want to learn more about Liverpool's seafaring past.
In the Merseyside Maritime Museum, you can view exhibits about the historic ill-fated passenger liners, the Titanic and the Lusitania, and the people from Liverpool who sailed on them.
Where there's a port there are always pirates, smugglers, and customs officers hoping to catch them. The Maritime Museum also has multiple exhibitions exploring the darker side of maritime life in Liverpool so don't miss that one while you're there.
If your interest lies with the Merchant Navy, you'll enjoy the document collection the Maritime Museum houses which is one of the most impressive collections of its kind in England.
The Merseyside Maritime Museum opens Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. No prior reservations are required and admission is free.
International Slavery Museum
Great Britain isn't always associated with the historic slave trade quite as much as it could be, but visit Liverpool's International Slavery Museum on the Royal Albert Dock and you'll be surprised to see just how much involvement the country actually had in the despicable trade.
The International Slavery Museum houses multiple exhibits on transatlantic slavery in various formats including paintings, sculptures, documents, and related artifacts. Slavery still hasn't been completely abolished and so the museum also concentrates on bringing to light the ongoing atrocities of modern slavery.
There's no admission charge to the International Slavery Museum and its regular opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from ten to six.
The Tate Liverpool is one of four museums in Britain curated by the Tate Organisation. The Tate occupies a large renovated warehouse in the Royal Albert Dock on Liverpool's waterfront.
Tate Liverpool is a museum dedicated to modern art which displays work by both British and international artists on a permanent basis and also holds temporary rotating exhibitions of work by contemporary artists.
There's no admission charge to get into the Tate and it's open from 10 am to 6 pm every day except Mondays.
The Beatles are an iconic pop group that began their lengthy and very successful music career in a place called the Cavern Club in Liverpool. While their music may not be to everyone's taste it has certainly made a massive impact on the music scene in England, Europe, and around the world.
The Britannia Vaults in the Royal Albert Docks is a museum dedicated to the Beatles story and contains numerous items such as guitars played by them, clothes they've worn, and a piano played by John Lennon.
To add to the atmosphere, their most famous album cover of all time, the Abbey Road crossing, has been recreated in the museum as has the stage from the Cavern Club and there's also a yellow submarine for extra authenticity plus a Fab Four themed cafe.
Tickets to the Britannia Vaults must be booked online prior to arriving and each has a specific time slot. They are not free but carry a charge of £17 per adult or £44 for a family of four. Tickets allow access to the Beatles Story exhibition during the week and also to the Discovery Zone at weekends. If you arrive without a pre-purchased ticket you may be able to acquire one at the door, but you'll have to wait until a suitable time slot is available.
If you have to wait to get into the Beatles Story exhibition and start feeling peckish, you're in luck, as the Royal Albert Dock is where you can get some of the best street food in Liverpool.
Museums In Liverpool City Centre
If you're out shopping in Liverpool city centre and want to add a cultural activity to your day you won't have far to go to find a good museum. Two of the best museums in central Liverpool are the Victoria Gallery and the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre.
The Victoria Gallery and Museum is part of the campus of the University of Liverpool and houses eclectic collections of period furniture, silverware, antique scientific equipment, and paintings. Entry to the gallery is free.
The Williamson Tunnels are a complete anomaly. No one knows why they were dug, but this labyrinth of subterranean excavations in the Old Stableyard on Smithdown Lane is a creepy must-see. You can take a guided tour of the tunnels on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The tours are free, but any contributions help go towards the continuing exploration and maintenance of the tunnels.
Best Free Museums In Liverpool
When it comes to the best free museums in Liverpool you have plenty to choose from. All of the museums in Liverpool curated by the Liverpool Museums Organisation have free admittance. They include the Museum of Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum, and the Lady Lever Art Gallery to name just three. There are many more besides those and the only time you'll be required to pay an entrance fee is if the museum is privately run or is holding a special exhibition you want to see.
Are there any cheap museums in Liverpool?
You can't get any cheaper than free which is the entrance cost to 99 percent of the museums in Liverpool.
There's no other city in the UK where you can find museums to visit as varied as they are in Liverpool. If after reading through this article you've decided to spend a week going around the museums in Liverpool, who can blame you? They're certainly diverse and even better, cost-free. No matter whether you're into contemporary art or prefer the latest media art or like culture and history more than pop groups, there's a museum in Liverpool that will leave you feeling glad all over that you visited it.