5 Brilliant Museums In The North

Tuesday 30th April 2019
We are lucky in the North. Not just because we have the best cities, the most scenic countryside and the friendliest and most charismatic people, but we also have an illustrious history and some of the best museums to explore it in. Here’s just a handful of them.

National Railway Museum
Leeman Road, YO26 4XJ
Free

Call us biased but when it comes to railways and the North, well, we decidedly are. And the NRM as well as being a brilliant day is also a huge celebration of how the railways changed the world and how it all started right here.

Here you’ll find, among 100 locomotives a Japanese bullet train, the record-breaking Mallard, a replica of Stevenson’s Rocket and more besides.

The museum is spread across two halls a shed and a yard and is a truly innovative place of wonder and fascination. You can ride on the miniature railroad in the South Yard, step inside Queen Victoria’s Carriage in the Station Hall, discover the Collections store in the North Shed and wander around the most famous trains in the world in the Great Hall. All this and it’s minutes from York Train station.

The Great Northern Museum: Hancock
Barras Bridge, Newcastle, NE2 4PT
Free
Great North Museum Hancock

With a name like that it’s obvious that this place is not backwards at coming forwards. But it’s right to be so forthright – it even goes on to say that it’s “the world under one roof” which you can't take literally, sadly, but it’s not entirely overstating the matter. This place is packed with wonders, starting at the incredible menagerie of an entrance hall, which encompasses birds, elephants and vibrantly coloured fish.

It also has an incredibly varied itinerary and brings its exhibitions to life with displays such as an interactive model of Hadrian’s wall, a life-size T-rex replica and even an Inuit kayak. This is more of a traditional museum but nonetheless fascinating, it’s like wandering around Tintin’s lockup, and while it’s not quite all the world under one roof, it’s very close. And once you’ve been around the world you can pop up to the planetarium and take on the universe.

Great North Museum Hancock (interior)

Imperial War Museum North
Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester, M17 1TZ
Free (with some paid exhibitions)
Imperial War Museum North

This place opened back in 2002 as part of the regeneration of Manchester that also saw the Lowry and MediaCityUK pop into existence. Acclaimed from the get go, IWM North is dedicated to the wars and conflicts that have affected Britain and the Commonwealth since WWI, with a fantastic standing exhibition and a brilliant itinerary of touring exhibitions. The focus of the museum is on the ordinary people who were affected by war and conflict that makes it all the more accessible and fascinating.

Check the website to see what’s on and also plan the visit so you can take advantage of the different audio visual presentations. For example, every day at midday Mightier Than War is a shown. This is a free, fully immersive 360º projection featuring a poem exclusively written for the museum by award-winning Mancunian poet Tony Walsh.

On top of all this the museum is housed in a striking building on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, and while youngsters might take some encouragement to note the striking symbolism of a glass and steel construction representing the shards of a world shattered by war, they’ll definitely love getting up close to an actual tank or two.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AG
Free
Kelvingrove Art Gallery Museum

We’ve mentioned the Kelvingrove so many times on this blog that you really should have got the message by now. Go! Go to the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery! Now!

This place is a national treasure filled with the wonders of natural history in a mesmerising tableaux: there’s a Spitfire in the entrance hall suspended above a giraffe and an elephant, which once viewed is something you’ll certainly never unsee.

Kelvingrove is also home to arguably the greatest painting on display in Scotland: Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross. To top it all off it’s housed in a wonderful park which is another highlight of this amazing city.

World Museum
William Brown Street, Liverpool, L3 8EN
Free
World Museum Liverpool © National Museums Liverpool

Liverpool is not short of museums and art galleries and they all come under the banner of National Museums Liverpool. The “World” is huge and the collections cover the natural and physical sciences, archaeology and ethnology, plus there’s the Natural History Centre and a planetarium. In short the museum has set itself the task of telling the story of the earth through millions of years of its history and it does the job amazingly well. This is a free and fascinating day out for all the family, if you’re heading to Liverpool get this on the agenda.