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Free Museums & Galleries Listing of all the UK's free museums and art galleries

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Whether you want to see an original Picasso, check out the history of toys or find out about forensics, there are free UK museums and galleries to suit all tastes.

View all museums on a map: Free Museums and Art Galleries

Free London museums

Museum picture Bank of England Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: City of London (map) Link: Bank of England Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. Last entry 4.45pm, closed bank holidays. Open 10am-1pm 24/31 Dec.

Description: This museum shows objects from the Bank of England's 300 years of existence, from cartoons to banknotes to furniture. You can even try to lift a real gold bar!

MSE user Jo reviewed this museum: "Good informative museum with related worksheets for children, as well as fun things like holding a gold bar. My 10-year-old especially enjoyed the experience. It took about 1.5 hours to cover it all."

Museum picture British Museum
Where: Bloomsbury (map) Link: British Museum
Open: 10am-5.30pm every day, till 8.30pm Fri. Closed 1 Jan, Good Fri and 24-26 Dec.
Description: An always busy and always fascinating collection of over eight million objects. Themes include Leaders & Rulers, Animals, and Money.
Museum picture Geffrye Museum
Where: Hoxton (map) Link: Geffrye Museum
Open: Tue-Sun & bank hols 10am-5pm. Closed Mon (unless bank hol), Good Fri, 24-26 Dec & 1 Jan.
Description: Special exhibition costs £5/£3 concessions, under-16s free. See inside English homes in a range of period rooms from 1600 to today. Collections include furniture, fine art and domestic objects.
Museum picture Grant Museum of Zoology
Where: Euston (map) Link: Museum of Zoology
Open: Mon-Sat 1pm-5pm. Closed bank hols, Christmas, Easter.
Description: The museum's 67,000 specimens cover the entire animal kingdom, making this one giant animal graveyard!
Museum picture Horniman Museum and Gardens
Where: Forest Hill (map) Link: Horniman Museum
Open: Every day 10.30am-5.30pm, except 24-26 Dec.
Description: Museum packed with a range of different things to see, including musical instruments, natural history artefacts and cultural curiosities.
Museum picture Hunterian Museum
Where: Lincoln's Inn Fields (map) Link: Hunterian Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm.
Description: Museum of anatomy, natural history, osteology and pathology, based on John Hunter's collection of 15,000 specimens and preparations.
Museum picture Museum of Croydon
Where: Croydon (map) Link: Museum of Croydon
Open: Tue- Sat 10.30am-5pm. Closed bank holidays, Christmas and New Year
Description: Shows the history of Croydon through different themes such as work & play, life & love, home & community, trends & movement.
Museum picture Museum of London Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: London Wall (map) Link: Museum of London
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

Description: One of the world’s largest urban history museums. Exhibitions include the story of modern London from 1666 to today.

MSE user Lisa E says: "This museum charts London's history from Roman times to today, laid out thoughtfully with interactive features for children, and regular talks by staff on various topics.

"My highlights were the War, Fire and Plague sections, which show how the city has coped with its various disasters over the years."

Debra Herring adds: "This is a great place to take the whole family. You can just stroll around all the history of London and it's great for all ages as well. You can reminisce about all the things from your era with the kids."

Museum picture Museum of London Docklands
Where: West India Quay (map) Link: London Docklands
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Narrating London's history as a port, from the Roman settlement up to the regeneration of the docklands.
Museum picture National Maritime Museum
Where: Greenwich (map) Link: Maritime Museum
Open: 10am-5pm every day, till 8pm Thu.
Description: Dedicated to all things nautical. Includes the Maritime Galleries, the Queen's House and the Royal Observatory.
Gallery picture National Portrait Gallery Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Just off Trafalgar Square (map) Link: National Portrait Gallery
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Thu-Fri until 9pm.

Description: Founded in 1856, it has over 195,000 portraits, from modern subjects to paintings from the 16th century.

MSE user Kate Haywood says: "This was really great. They have 3 free booklets for children - one is a fantastic workbook, one is a portrait trail and the other is a museum trail. All captured the interest of our 4 year old."

Museum picture Natural History Museum
Where: South Kensington (map) Link: Natural History Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5.50pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Life and earth science specimens in five collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology.
Museum picture Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Where: Euston (map) Link: Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Open: Tue-Sat 1pm-5pm. Closed Christmas & Easter.
Description: An estimated 80,000 archaeological finds help take you on a journey through the history of Egypt.
Museum picture RAF Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Hendon (map) Link: RAF Museum
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 1 Jan, 24-26 Dec.

Description: Make your way around five huge buildings crammed with aircrafts, artefacts, aviation memorabilia, fine art and photographs covering the history of aviation.

MSE user J McEntee says: "This is a fantastic museum. It is very child-friendly with lots of interactive things for children to do. There are picnic areas both inside and outside the museum if you want to bring your own food and snacks. My favourite aeroplane is the Lancaster bomber which is huge! Great for families and all ages."

Judy Knight adds: "It was great to get so close to this huge collection of aircraft. I found it both inspiring and very moving to find out about events in history."

Museum picture Ragged School Museum
Where: Mile End (map) Link: Ragged School Museum
Open: Wed/Thu 10am-5pm, first Sun of each month 2pm-5pm. Schools and groups Mon-Fri.
Description: Lots to see, including a Victorian East End kitchen, a reconstructed Victorian classroom and several gallery areas.
Gallery picture Saatchi Gallery
Where: Sloane Square (map) Link: Saatchi Gallery
Open: Every day 10am-6pm.
Description: Contemporary art from both young unknowns and international artists.
Museum picture Science Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: South Kensington (map) Link: Science Museum
Open: Every day 10am-6pm, except 24-26 Dec.

Description: Vast museum of advancements in science, medicine, technology and industry. Suitable for young and old alike.

MSE user Sult sent us this review: "A great family day out with plenty of things to do for under 5s. Good innovative day and the 4D cinema was mind blowing."

Gallery picture Tate Britain
Where: Pimlico (map) Link: Tate Britain
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Last admission 5.15pm.
Description: One of four Tate galleries, Tate Britain has a vast range of British and international art from 1500 onwards.
Gallery picture Tate Modern
Where: Bankside (map) Link: Tate Modern
Open: Sun-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm. Closed 24-26 Dec. Last admissions 5.15pm/9.15pm.
Description: Large, striking, modern art gallery featuring international works from 1900 onwards. Set in a former power station.
Gallery picture The National Gallery
Where: Trafalgar Square (map) Link: The National Gallery
Open: Every day 10am–6pm, Fri 10am–9pm. Closed 1 Jan, 24-26 Dec.
Description: Over 2,300 paintings, including famous works like Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Cezanne’s Bathers.
Gallery picture The Wallace Collection
Where: Off Oxford Street (map) Link: The Wallace Collection
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Impressive art collection featuring works by Titian, Rembrandt, Hals and Velázquez.
Museum picture Victoria & Albert Museum
Where: South Kensington (map) Link: V&A Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5.45pm, Fri 10am-10pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Large museum of art and design, with colourful collections arranged around themes including Materials & Techniques, Asia, and Europe.
Museum picture V&A Museum of Childhood Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Bethnal Green (map) Link: V&A Museum
Open: Every day 10am - 5.45pm.

Description: The museum shows the story of childhood, from doll houses to contemporary children's clothing, to moving and optical toys.

Lisa Smith reviewed this museum for MSE using the form below. She says: "A building rammed with nostalgia for anybody over the age of 30. A fantastic place to visit with siblings for some serious reminiscing!"

Museum picture Wellcome Collection
Where: Euston Road (map) Link: Wellcome Collection
Open: Tue/Wed/Fri 10am-6pm, Thu 10am-10pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-6pm.
Description: Varied attraction with lots to see and do, focusing on the history and progression of medicine around the world.

Free Northern Ireland museums

Museum picture Armagh County Museum
Where: Armagh (map) Link: Armagh Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-1pm, 2pm-5pm.
Description: Features displays on the natural world, transport, art, archaeology, textiles and costume, traditions, and more.
Museum picture Ulster Museum
Where: Belfast (map) Link: Ulster Museum
Open: Tue-Sun and bank holidays 10am-5pm.
Description: A vast collection of artefacts from the natural sciences, art and history, ancient relics and more.

Free Scotland museums

Gallery picture Aberdeen Art Gallery
Where: Aberdeen (map) Link: Aberdeen Art Gallery
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. Closed Mon.
Description: The museum houses art ranging from 18th century portraits by Raeburn, Hogarth, Ramsey and Reynolds to powerful 20th century works by Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer and Francis Bacon.
Museum picture Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Where: Aberdeen (map) Link: Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-3pm. Closed Mon.
Description: Displays on the North Sea gas and oil industry and Aberdeen's long relationship with the sea.
Museum picture Broughty Castle Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Dundee (map) Link: Broughty Castle
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12.30pm-4pm (closed Mon during Oct-Mar).

Description: Located at the mouth of the River Tay, this castle museum houses a range of displays on local subjects.

MSE user Lucy reviewed this museum, she said: "This chilled museum covers the history of the world from the point of view of Broughty Ferry, including woolly mammoths and some nice 19th century paintings.

"You can bird watch and look for dolphins from the top floor, and it's very handy for the clean beach and an excellent play park. No wheelchair access though, so you will need to be able to get up lots of stairs."

Museum picture Burrell Collection Gallery
Where: Glasgow (map) Link: Burrell Collection Gallery
Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: An eclectic collection compiled by shipping magnate Sir William Burrell and later donated to the city of Glasgow.
Gallery picture City Art Centre
Where: Edinburgh (map) Link: City Art Centre
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm.
Description: A nine storey former warehouse with collections ranging from Egyptian and Roman objects to Star Wars costumes and artwork.
Museum picture Highland Folk Museum
Where: Newtonmore (map) Link: Highland Folk Museum
Open: Apr 1-Aug 31 10.30am-5.30pm every day (Sep 1-Oct 31 11am-4.30pm).
Description: Showcasing 300 years of Highland rural life.
Museum & Gallery picture Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Inverness (map) Link: Inverness Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm (only open Thu-Sat from Nov-Mar)
Description: An eclectic mix of geology, archaeology and fine arts and crafts, all made, used or collected in the Highlands.
Museum & Gallery picture Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Glasgow (map) Link: Kelvingrove Museum
Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm.

Description: Varied collection includes weapons and suits of armour, and Impressionist paintings.

MSE user Catriona Gibson says: "This museum has undergone a major refurbishment. I have two young kids and this is the ideal place to spend a wet afternoon. There are animals, weapons, paintings and a Spitfire hanging from the ceiling. Also, on Sunday afternoons there is normally an organ recital."

Museum picture Museum on the Mound
Where: Edinburgh (map) Link: Museum on the Mound
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat & Sun 1pm-5pm.
Description: Explores the history of money and all themes related to it: art & design, technology, crime, trade and security. There's £1 million pounds and Scotland's oldest bank note to see.
Museum picture National Museum of Scotland
Where: Edinburgh (map) Link: National Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm.
Description: The history, land and culture of Scotland. Artefacts include steam engines and ornate quaichs (drinking cups).
Museum picture People's Palace and Winter Gardens
Where: Glasgow (map) Link: People's Palace
Open: Tue-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Museum narrating Glasgow's social heritage and the story of the city from 1750 onwards.
Museum picture Provand's Lordship
Where: Glasgow (map) Link: Provand's Lordship
Open: Tue-Thu & Sat 10am - 5pm, Fri & Sun 11am - 5pm.
Description: One of the oldest buildings in Glasgow (built in 1471) is now a museum detailing life in Glasgow around 1500 and 1700.
Museum picture Riverside Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Glasgow (map) Link: Riverside Museum
Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm.

Description: Dedicated to sea and land transportation.

Angela Halsall reviewed this museums for MSE. She says: "This state of the art museum hosts a huge collection of excellent old transport, and provides extra information via touchscreen tablets. Outside is an impressive ship which is well worth a visit."

Museum picture Rozelle House Galleries
Where: Ayr (map) Link: Rozelle House Galleries
Open: Mon-Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 12-5pm.
Description: Rozelle House is an 18th century mansion house set in gardens. It's currently showing the Tam O' Shanter collection by Alexander Goudie.
Museum picture Savings Banks Museum
Where: Dumfries (map) Link: Savings Museum
Open: Apr-Sept: Tue-Sat 10am-4pm (open Thu-Sat during Oct-Mar)
Description: Unusual museum with banknotes and coins from across the globe, early home savings boxes and more.
Museum picture Scotland Street School Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Glasgow (map) Link: Street School Museum
Open: Tue-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm. Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.

Description: Devoted to Scotland's education history, exploring advancements in schooling and the old school's heritage.

MSE user ScotsBob reviewed this museum using the contact form below: "This was originally a school and anyone who was a pupil in Glasgow will identify with the gallery building. Going round is just like a step back in time. However, it is used extensively by school trips and this restricts the areas the public can visit. Better to go in school hols and visit all the areas."

Museum & Gallery picture Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum
Where: Stirling (map) Link: Stirling Smith Art Gallery
Open: Tue-Sat 10.30am-5pm, Sun 2pm - 5pm.
Description: Founded in 1874 as The Smith Institute, the Stirling Smith holds historical artefacts and paintings of Stirlingshire.
Museum picture St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art
Where: Glasgow (map) Link: St Mungo Museum
Open: Tue-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Museum dedicated to religious life and art, promoting respect between all faiths. Four exhibition areas, spread over three floors.
Museum picture The People's Story Museum
Where: Edinburgh (map) Link: The People's Story Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun during festival season 12noon-5pm.
Description: Explore how Edinburgh's people have worked and played since the 18th century.
Museum picture The Writers' Museum
Where: Edinburgh (map) Link: The Writers' Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm (Aug only).
Description: Celebrate the lives of three of Scotland's finest writers - Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott & Robert Louis Stephenson.
Museum picture Trinity House Museum
Where: Edinburgh (map) Link: Trinity House Museum
Open: Guided tours only. Available Mon-Fri. Book in advance (0131 554 3289).
Closed 24-25 Dec & 1-2 Jan.
Description: Museum with a collection of maritime artefacts, located in a Georgian house.

Free north east England museums

Museum picture Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum
Where: South Shields (map) Link: Arbeia Roman Fort
Open: 1 Apr-28 Sep: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-4pm, Sun 1pm-5pm. 29 Sep-2 Nov: Mon-Fri 10am-2.30pm. 3 Nov-Mar: closed.
Description: The fort formerly guarded the entrance to the River Tyne. It now shows visitors life in Roman Britain.
Gallery picture Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Where: Gateshead (map) Link: Baltic Centre
Open: Every day 10am-6pm (Tue 10.30am - 6pm)
Description: Impressive contemporary art venue, with four galleries, a library, an archive, two restaurants and a cafe bar.
Gallery picture Biscuit Factory Gallery
Where: Newcastle (map) Link: Biscuit Factory Gallery
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photography, ceramics, jewellery and glass by artists from all over the world.
Museum picture Discovery Museum
Where: Newcastle (map) Link: Discovery Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm.
Description: Museum about the Tyneside area, including science, technology, and its maritime and military history.
Museum picture Great North Museum: Hancock Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Newcastle (map) Link: Great North Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Closed 25-26 Dec & 1 Jan.

Description: Features displays on the Ancient Greeks, Ancient Egypt, animals and plants, and a planetarium.

MSE user Lisa sent us her review using the form below. She says: "This is a great museum, and I love taking my godson there. There's lots to see and do and several interactive things to keep the kids occupied."

Gallery picture Hatton Gallery
Where: Newcastle (map) Link: Hatton Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, closed Sun, open bank hols.
Description: A range of contemporary and historical art exhibitions.
Gallery picture Laing Art Gallery
Where: Newcastle (map) Link: Laing Art Gallery
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. Closed Mon except bank holidays. Closed 1 Jan, 25, 26 Dec.
Description: Historic and contemporary art and sculpture.
Museum picture Monkwearmouth Station Museum
Where: Sunderland (map) Link: Monkwearmouth
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. Closed 24 Dec-5 Jan.
Description: Museum with interactive galleries. Things to see include the children's gallery.
Museum picture National Glass Centre
Where: Sunderland (map) Link: National Glass Centre
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 1 Jan, 25, 26 Dec.
Description: Promotes the art, history and science of glass through exhibitions. Glass blowing demonstrations take place daily.
Museum picture National Railway Museum Shildon
Where: Co Durham (map) Link: NRM Shildon
Open: Every day 10am-5pm (Closes 4pm 1 Oct-31 Mar). Closed 1 Jan, 24-26 Dec.
Description: Branch of the National Railway Museum based in one of the world's oldest railway towns. Suitable for all ages.
Gallery picture Shipley Art Gallery
Where: Gateshead (map) Link: Shipley Art Gallery
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 10am-5pm.
Description: Museum dedicated to contemporary craft and design. Its Designs for Life gallery has over 300 artefacts.
Museum and Gallery picture South Shields Museum & Art Gallery
Where: South Shields (map) Link: South Shields Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-4pm, closed Sun and 15 Dec-4 Jan.
Description: Museum and gallery which tells south Tyneside's history, with exhibits, artworks and colourful displays.
Museum picture Stephenson Railway Museum
Where: North Shields (map) Link: Stephenson Railway
Open: Weekends and bank holidays from 30 Mar-2 Nov and daily during school holidays, from 11am-4pm, except Christmas.
Description: Museum that recreates the steam railway era. Based at the home of George Stephenson's engine Billy.
Museum picture Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Where: Sunderland (map) Link: Sunderland Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. Closed 24 Dec-6 Jan.
Description: Museum in the city centre with an art gallery, exhibition space and gardens.
Museum picture Woodhorn Colliery Museum
Where: Ashington, Northumberland (map) Link: Woodhorn Colliery
Open: Wed-Sun (every day in school holidays) 10am-5pm (4pm Oct-Mar).
Description: Shows mining history of the area, with a big focus on real people and village life. You can also research your family tree in the archive centre.

Free Wales museums

Museum picture Big Pit: National Coal Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Blaenavon, near Abergavenny (map) Link: Big Pit Museum
Open: Every day 9.30am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Underground tours 10am-3.30pm.

Description: Museum devoted to all things mining-related, with plenty to see and do.

MSE user Nicky Matcher says: "Really different, but a little difficult to find. It's right at the end of an industrial estate, but well worth finding. Genuine ex-miners are your guides to a brilliant and authentic underground tour (not for small children or those with limited mobility). There are lots of supporting displays on the surface too."

Museum and gallery picture Cardiff Story Museum & Gallery
Where: Cardiff (map) Link: Cardiff Story Museum and Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm. Closed Sun, 24 Dec from 1.30pm, 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

Description: A museum and gallery dedicated to telling the story of Cardiff, including how it rose from a small market town in the 14th century to one of the world's biggest ports 600 years later.

Museum picture National Museum Cardiff Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Cardiff (map) Link: Cardiff Museum
Open: Tue-Sun, 10am-5p. Also open 25 Aug bank hol Mon.

Description: Welsh history from early periods to the present day, including archaeology and geology. Suitable for all ages.

MSE user Rebecca M says: "This fantastic museum has loads of different things to see, including a brilliant geology and dinosaur section, as well as a hands-on room where you can handle exhibits. The art collection is superb too with lots of impressionist paintings and pieces by very famous artists."

Museum picture National Roman Legion Museum
Where: Newport (map) Link: Roman Legion Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm
Description: Features artefacts from Roman Caerleon, the second Augustan Legion's base.
Museum picture National Slate Museum
Where: Llanberis, Gwynedd (map) Link: Slate Museum
Open: Easter-Oct: 10am-5pm every day. Nov-Easter: 10am-4pm, closed Sat
Description: Located in the Victorian workshops built near Elidir mountain. Tells the history of the slate industry and its workers.
Museum picture National Waterfront Museum
Where: Swansea (map) Link: National Waterfront
Open: Every day 10am-5pm
Description: Focuses on Welsh industry and innovation from 300 years ago to the present day.
Museum picture National Wool Museum
Where: Near Newcastle Emlyn,
Carmarthenshire (map)
Link: National Wool Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm (closed Sun/Mon during Oct-Mar)
Description: Situated in the former Cambrian Mills, it looks at this important industry in Wales. It's suitable for families and includes a 'Wooly tail trail' with interactive activities for children.
Museum picture St Fagans National History Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Cardiff (map) Link: St Fagans Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm

Description: Located in a hundred acres of parkland, this open-air museum explores Welsh culture and history.

MSE user Gil Rider says: "Fab day out - take a picnic as there's lots of walking and lots to see."

Museum picture Swansea Museum
Where: Swansea (map) Link: Swansea Museum
Open: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Open bank holiday Mondays.
Description: Wales's oldest museum opened in 1841, and tells the story of Swansea and its people.

Free eastern England museums

Museum picture Colchester Natural History Museum
Where: Colchester (map) Link: Colchester Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Closed 24-27 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Focuses on the natural heritage of north-east Essex.
Museum picture Hollytrees Museum
Where: Colchester (map) Link: Hollytrees Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. Closed 24-27 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Includes the story of Hollytrees, an elegant Georgian town house dating from 1718.
Gallery picture Kettle's Yard
Where: Cambridge (map) Link: Kettle's Yard
Open: Tue-Sun & bank hols 12pm-5pm. Closed 25 Dec to 1 Jan, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Description: House and gallery containing a rich variety of modern art, founded by HS 'Jim' Ede for visual arts and music.
Museum picture Natural History Museum at Tring Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Tring, Hertfordshire (map) Link: Natural History Museum (Tring)
Open: Every day 10am-5.50pm.

Description: Attractive Victorian museum with a wide range of natural history artefacts. Great for animal and bird enthusiasts.

MSE user Marty says: "I love this place. I used to go to it all the time as a kid, and it's still great now. There are loads of unexpected animals on display."

Museum and gallery picture Royston & District Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Royston, Hertfordshire (map) Link: Royston Museum
Open: Wed, Thu & Sat 10am-4.45pm. (Easter-Sept also open bank hol Mon, and the Sun before the bank hol, 2pm-4.45pm)
Description: Museum and art gallery, with Royston's heritage detailed in its Royston Tapestry.
Museum picture Stockwood Discovery Centre
Where: Luton (map) Link: Stockwood Discovery
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm and Sat-Sun & bank hols 11am-5pm. Closes 4pm 1 Nov-13 Feb.
Description: Collections include rural crafts, social history, archaeology, and the Mossman collection of carriages.
Museum picture The Fitzwilliam Museum
Where: Cambridge (map) Link: Fitzwilliam Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm. Sun & bank hol Mon 12-5pm. Closed 1 Jan, Good Friday, 24-26 & 31 Dec.
Description: Compact museum housing a range of displays, including British, Italian, Spanish and Flemish art, and Grecian, Roman and Egyptian artefacts.
Museum picture The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
Where: Cambridge (map) Link: Sedgwick Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-1pm & 2pm-5pm. Sat 10am-4pm. Closed Good Friday and over the Christmas and New Year period.
Description: Collection of over 2 million fossils, rocks and minerals. Display themes include forests and shallow seas, tropical reefs, costal plains and the ice ages.
Museum picture Wardown Park Museum
Where: Luton (map) Link: Wardown Park
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1pm-5pm.
Description: Explores the history of Luton. Includes a collection of over 700 hats from the 1700s onwards.
Museum picture Whipple Museum of the History of Science
Where: Cambridge (map) Link: Whipple Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 12.30pm-4.30pm. Closed weekends and bank holidays.
Description: Devoted to the history of science, with scientific models and instruments from the Middle Ages onwards.

Free south west England museums

Museum picture Athelstan Museum
Where: Malmesbury, Wilts (map) Link: Athelstan Museum
Open: Every day 10.30am-4.30pm (During winter it closes 3.30pm on Sun)
Description: Explores Malmesbury's history. Artefacts include paintings, drawings, engravings, photographs, coins and more.
Museum picture Blaise Castle House Museum
Where: Bristol (map) Link: Blaise Castle House
Open: Wed-Sun & bank holidays 10.30am-4pm. Also open Tuesdays in July & August, but open weekends only between November and Easter.
Description: Includes casts of classical and neo-classical reliefs and sculptures, a model train collection, period costumes, and the Bristol at Home galleries.
Museum picture Blandford Town Museum
Where: Blandford Forum, Dorset (map) Link: Blandford Town Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10.30am 4.30pm (April to October only)
Description: A small but packed museum housing artefacts from Blandford Forum and the surrounding villages.
Museum & Gallery picture Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Bristol (map) Link: Bristol Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat, Sun & bank hol Mons 10am-6pm
Description: Features exhibitions on Egypt and dinosaurs. Plus Victorian and European art.
Museum & Gallery picture Burton Art Gallery & Museum
Where: Bideford, Devon (map) Link: Burton Art Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm.
Description: Permanent collection includes oils and watercolours, with works by Sir John Lavery, Sir George Clausen and E Aubrey Hunt.
Museum picture House of Marbles Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Bovey Tracey, Devon (map) Link: House of Marbles
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm. Closed Easter Sunday, 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

Description: The House of Marbles is a working glass and games factory located in a historic pottery.

We've been inundated with reviews for the House of Marbles.

Jaynice says: "House of Marbles is a shop of the past. There's lots of old toys to buy and it has a very good glass factory where you can watch things being made. You can buy marbles too. It's a good place to visit on a rainy day."

Sotonmum adds: "Went to this not expecting very much and ended up spending way longer than anticipated with my three and six year olds. Lots of interesting things to see and glass making demonstrations. There is also a lovely outside cafe and play area including giant chess and jenga pieces which entertained the children while we adults had a yummy cream tea."

Ruth Dearing also visited on a rainy day and enjoyed the cream tea. She says: "Went last year on a very rainy day. Quite small, lovely quirky exhibits. Good shop and excellent cafe/bistro - had best Devon cream tea there! You can order stuff in their factory (which you can also view) and have it sent to you, if it is not in their shop."

Museum picture M-Shed Museum
Where: Bristol (map) Link: M-Shed Museum
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat, Sun & bank hols 10am-6pm.
Description: Dockside galleries (designed to mimic the 1950s style) tell the history of Bristol through film, photography and quirky items.
Museum picture Museum In The Park
Where: Stroud, Gloucestershire (map) Link: Museum In The Park
Open: Tue-Fri (and Mon in Aug) 10am-5pm; Sat, Sun & bank hol Mons 11am-5pm (Closes 4pm Oct-Mar). Closed Good Friday and 1-31 Dec.
Description: Set in Stratford Park, the museum is a 17th century former wool merchant and celebrates the history of Stroud.
Museum picture Poole Museum
Where: Poole, Dorset (map) Link: Poole Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-4pm.
Description: About Poole's history and inhabitants, with a terrace and visitor lounge with vistas over the Old Town and Poole Harbour.
Museum and Gallery picture Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
Where: Plymouth (map) Link: Plymouth City Museum
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4.30pm.
Description: Artefacts and artworks from Ancient Egypt, archaeology, maritime and local history, fine art and decorative art collections.
Museum and Gallery picture Red House Museum
Where: Christchurch, Dorset (map) Link: Red House Museum
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm.
Description: A Georgian building, originally built as a workhouse in 1764, now filled with displays and exhibitions, including local social and natural history, geology and archaeology.
Museum picture Saltash Heritage Museum
Where: Saltash, Cornwall (map) Link: Saltash Heritage Museum
Open: Apr-Jun & Oct-Nov; Wed 2pm-4pm & Sat 10am-4pm. Jul-Sep; Wed 2pm-4pm, Fri 10.30am-12.30pm & 2pm-4pm, Sat 10am-4pm. Bank hols 10am-4pm.
Description: With a small, but ever-changing display, Saltash Heritage Museum charts the history and well-known characters of the town.
Gallery picture Victoria Art Gallery
Where: Bath (map) Link: Victoria Art Gallery
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1.30pm-5pm. Closed Good Fri, 25-26 Dec & 1 Jan.
Description: A wide variety of exhibitions overflowing with pieces from artists both past and present.

Free West Midlands museums

Museum picture Bantock House Museum
Where: Wolverhampton (map) Link: Bantock House
Open: Tues-Sun plus bank hol Mon 11am-5pm (Nov-Mar 12-4pm).
Description: The museum displays Edwardian period décor with arts and crafts, as well as a range of interactive exhibitions exploring local history subjects.
Museum picture Bewdley Museum
Where: Bewdley, Worcs (map) Link: Bewdley Museum
Open: Every day from 29 Mar-2 Nov: 10am-4pm; Fri-Sun 11am-3pm from 3 Nov-14 Dec; every day 11am-3pm from 3rd Mar-28 Mar.
Description: Especially suitable for families, this museum focuses on local crafts and trades, with a brass foundry, gardens and more.
Museum & Gallery picture Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Birmingham (map) Link: Birmingham Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm (opens Fri 10.30am). Closed 26 Dec.

Description: Houses more than 40 galleries, and located in a Grade II listed building. It also has two exhibition spaces.

MSE user Chris Lock says: "One of those places where you never have enough time! Housed in a magnificent building, it has the Staffordshire Hoard, a wonderful collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings and many artefacts. The highlight was the fascinating display tracking the remarkable history of the city. We will visit again and again!"

Martyn Welsby adds: "What a fantastic collection of paintings, especially the Pre-Raphaelite pictures. There's something for everyone."

Museum picture Coventry Transport Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Coventry (map) Link: Coventry Museum
Open: Every day 10am - 5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

Description: Martin spent the day filming in the museum and was blown away.

He says: "Coventry Transport Museum's a very impressive place with a huge collection of cars - it's a seriously good family day out.

"My highlights were a DeLorean (Marty McFly eat your heart out) and Thrust SSC – the world’s fastest car – the only car ever to break the sound barrier."

Unfortunately the DeLorean is not currently on display.

Gallery picture Granary Art Gallery
Where: Weston Park, Shropshire (map) Link: Granary Art Gallery
Open: Every day 11am-4pm.
Description: Features contemporary art exhibitions and exhibits from the Weston Park collection, with a children's activity area and farm shop.
Museum and Gallery picture Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
Where: Coventry (map) Link: Herbert Art Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12noon-4pm.
Description: Has collections of archaeology, natural history, social and industrial history and visual arts as well as a history centre.
Museum and Gallery picture Hereford Museum and Art Gallery
Where: Hereford (map) Link: Hereford Museum
Open: Wed-Sat 11am-4pm.
Description: Features regularly changing exhibitions with plenty on local history, and located in a Victorian gothic building,
Gallery picture Ikon Gallery
Where: Birmingham (map) Link: Ikon Gallery
Open: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm. Closed Mon, except bank hols.
Description: Features a range of different media, including painting, installation, film, sound and photography.
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Museum picture Leather Museum
Where: Walsall (map) Link: Leather Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm (closes 4pm Nov-Mar). Also open Easter Mon and Aug BANK HOL MON. Closed Good Fri, Easter Sun, May Day, 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Take a walk thorugh this restored factory and discover Walsall's leather-making past.
Museum picture The Pen Museum
Where: Birmingham (map) Link: The Pen Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 11am-4pm, Sun 1pm-4pm. (Suggested donation £2 per adult).
Description: During the 19th century, 75% of everything written in the world was with a pen made in Birmingham. This museum shows the history of pen-making in Birmingham.
Museum picture RAF Museum Cosford Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Shifnal, Shropshire (map) Link: RAF Museum Cosford
Open: Mar-Oct 10am-6pm, Nov-Feb 10am-5pm. Last admission one hour before closing.

Description: Housing German, British and American aircraft, this museum explores military aviation.

Linda Price used the form below to send us her review of the museum. She says: "This is a great site, irrespective of the weather. There is something for every generation. I visited with children aged 7-9 years and they thoroughly enjoyed the Fun Flight section, the workshop and viewing the aircraft at such close proximity. The volunteers/staff were all very helpful too."

Dawn Stratham agrees the museum is perfect for rainy days: "The RAF Museum at Cosford has a range of old and new planes which are displayed in hangars (great for rainy days). Their new Cold War hangar is very interesting and has interactive screens so you can get up close and personal with planes, tanks and missiles."

Museum picture Royal Birmingham Society of Artists
Where: Birmingham (map) Link: Royal Birmingham Society of Artists
Open: Mon-Fri 10.30am-5.30pm, Sat 10.30am-5pm, Sun 1pm-5pm.
Description: As well as running school programmes and classes, the society has a permanent collection of over 400 works, including pieces by David Cox and Aubrey Beardsley.
Museum picture Shire Hall Gallery
Where: Stafford (map) Link: Shire Hall Gallery
Open: Mon/Wed-Sat 9.30am-5pm, Tue 10am-5pm, Sun 1pm-4pm. Closed 25-26 and 1 Jan.
Description: Dedicated to promoting visual arts and crafts, with a range of things to see for all ages.
Museum & Gallery picture The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Stoke-on-Trent (map) Link: Potteries Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm.
Description: This museum and gallery looks at the heritage of the Potteries. Contains a secret garden and a WW2 Spitfire.
Gallery picture Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Where: Wolverhampton (map) Link: Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. Closed Sun & bank hols.
Description: A mixture of exhibitions and events for the whole family.
Museum & Gallery picture Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum
Where: Worcester (map) Link: Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm. Closed Sun.
Description: A grand museum and art gallery with plenty of exhibitions and activities. Check out the glover's workshop which showcases Worcester's worldwide success as a historic glove exporter.

Free East Midlands museums

Museum picture Abbey Pumping Station
Where: Leicester (map) Link: Abbey Pumping Station
Open: Every day from Feb-Oct: 11am - 4.30pm. Opening times may vary due to special events.
Description: This museum looks into the region's history of science, technology and industry.
Museum picture Abington Park Museum
Where: Northampton (map) Link: Abington Park Museum
Open: Thu-Sun and bank hols 1pm-5pm Apr-Oct (Sat-Sun midday-4pm Nov-Mar).
Description: Displays the history of the Northamptonshire Regiment & Yeomanry, as well as past and present leather design.
Museum and gallery picture Derby Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Derby (map) Link: Derby Museum
Open: Tue-Sun 10am - 5pm. Also open bank hol Mon.
Description: There's plenty to see here, including two Egyptian mummies, a military gallery and a collection of Derby porcelain.
Gallery picture Harley Gallery
Where: Worksop, Notts (map) Link: Harley Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-4.30pm.
Description: Set in the tranquil surroundings of the Welbeck Estate, the gallery is home to creative works of hand-crafted works of art.
Museum picture Jewry Wall Museum
Where: Leicester (map) Link: Jewry Wall Museum
Open: Feb-Oct: 11am-4.30pm every day.
Description: Packed with a range of different things to see, including medieval glass and Roman artifacts.
Museum picture Museum of Lincolnshire Life
Where: Lincoln (map) Link: Lincolnshire Life
Open: Every day 10am-4pm (closed Sun between Oct-Mar)
Description: Community museum dedicated to all aspects of Lincolnshire's social history from 1750 onwards.
Museum picture Newarke Houses Museum & Gardens
Where: Leicester (map) Link: Newarke Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Things to see include a variety of toys from the Tudor period onwards, a play area for kids to try out different games and a "cinema experience".
Museum and Gallery picture New Walk Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Leicester (map) Link: New Walk Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Themes include Egyptians, Wild Space and World Arts, plus fine art displays, with works by Laurence Stephen Lowry and Francis Bacon.
Museum picture Northampton Museum and Art Gallery Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Northampton (map) Link: Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
Open: Tue-Sat and bank hols 10am-5pm, Sun midday-5pm.
Description: It features a range of subjects, including local history and the arts. It’s famous for its shoe collection.

MSE Andrea says: "Very impressed by the shoe and boot collection (Northampton’s famous for its shoe-making industry). It even includes boots used in the hilarious film Kinky Boots."

Museum picture Nottingham Contemporary
Where: Nottingham (map) Link: Nott'm Contemporary
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat and bank hols 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Built in a historic area, home to the medieval town hall and the city's Victorian railway.
Museum picture Pickford's House Museum
Where: Derby (map) Link: Pickford's House Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1pm-4pm.
Description: Museum of Georgian life and costume, including Georgian replica rooms, plus displays of toys and toy theatres upstairs.
Museum picture Discover Stamford Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Stamford, Lincs (map) Link: Discover Stamford
Open: Mon-Wed and Fri 9am-5pm, Thu 9am-6pm; Sat 9am-4pm.

Description: The home of the Stamford Tapestry and a range of local history artefacts.

MSE user Claire said: "As nice as this museum is, it is very small."

Museum picture The Guildhall
Where: Leicester (map) Link: The Guildhall
Open: Every day 11am-4.30pm Feb-Oct only. 11am-4.30pm. Sun: 1pm-4.30pm (open Feb-Nov only).
Description: Meet infamous pickpockets 'Emma Smith' and 'Crankie Gemmie' in the atmospheric Victorian police cells.

Free Yorkshire and Humber museums

Museum picture Bishops' House
Where: Sheffield (map) Link: Bishops' House
Open: Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. Closed 25 Dec, 1 Jan and Easter Sunday.
Description: A well-preserved timber-framed house, typifying the smaller English domestic house in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Museum picture Bolling Hall
Where: Bradford (map) Link: Bolling Hall
Open: Wed-Fri 11am-4pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun midday-5pm. Closed Mon (except Bank hols), Christmas and New Year holidays and Good Friday.
Description: Features period decor from different eras, including a bed made by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House.
Museum picture Bradford Industrial Museum
Where: Bradford (map) Link: Bradford Industrial
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat & Sun 11pm-4pm. Closed Mon (except bank hols), 25-26, 1 Jan and Good Friday.
Description: Things to see include textile machinery, motor vehicles and engineering.
Museum picture Dewsbury Museum
Where: Dewsbury (map) Link: Dewsbury Museum
Open: Tue-Fri 11am-5pm and Sat-Sun midday-5pm Mar-Oct.
Description: Illustrates the lives of children over the last century, including a 1940s classroom and local history and toy galleries.
Gallery picture Ferens Art Gallery
Where: Hull (map) Link: Ferens Art Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1.30pm-4.30pm. Closed Good Friday, 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Houses a collection of sculptures and paintings, as well as a children's gallery.
Gallery picture Graves Gallery
Where: Sheffield (map) Link: Graves Gallery
Open: Wed-Fri 10am-3pm, Sat 11am-4pm. Closed bank holidays and Easter weekend.
Description: Displays collections from the 16th-21st centuries, including works by Paul Cézanne, Damien Hirst and Bridget Riley.
Museum picture Hands on History Museum
Where: Hull (map) Link: Hands on History
Open: Selected Sat midday-4pm. See website for dates.
Description: Museum on the people and history of Hull. Also houses an Egyptian gallery with a 2,600-year-old mummy.
Museum picture Hull Maritime Museum
Where: Hull (map) Link: Hull Maritime Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1.30pm-4.30pm. Closed Good Friday, 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Devoted to all things maritime. Artefacts include a full-sized whale skeleton, ship models and more.
Museum picture Hull and East Riding Museum
Where: Hull (map) Link: Hull & East Riding Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1.30pm-4.30pm. Closed Good Friday, 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Museum of archaeology with mosaics, an Iron Age village complete with weaponry and a Roman bath house.
Gallery picture Leeds Art Gallery
Where: Leeds (map) Link: Leeds Art Gallery
Open: Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat 10am-5pm. Wed 12noon-5pm. Sun 1pm-5pm. Closed on bank hols.
Description: A range of 20th century British art, plus seasonal temporary exhibitions.
Museum picture Leeds City Museum
Where: Leeds (map) Link: Leeds City Museum
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm (open to 7pm Thu), Sat-Sun and bank hols 11am-5pm.
Description: Here you can see the Leeds Tiger and Leeds Mummy and even dig for fossils in the Life on Earth gallery.
Museum and Gallery picture Manor House Art Gallery & Museum
Where: Ilkley, West Yorkshire (map) Link: Manor House Gallery
Open: Wed-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 1pm-4pm. Closed Mon (except bank hols), Good Friday, 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Nestled in the picturesque Wharfe Valley, it features displays on Ilkley's history as well as seasonal exhibitions.
Gallery picture Millennium Gallery
Where: Sheffield (map) Link: Millennium Gallery
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun and bank hols 11am-4pm.
Description: Contains exhibitions of the visual arts, craft and design, with four individual galleries.
Museum picture National Coal Mining Museum
Where: Overton, West Yorkshire (map) Link: National Coal Mining
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan
Description: Situated at Caphouse Colliery, this museum looks at the local and national history of coal mining.
Museum picture National Media Museum
Where: Bradford (map) Link: National Media Museum
Open: Every day 10am-6pm
Description: All things related to television, film, photography, radio and the internet.
Museum picture National Railway Museum York
Where: York (map) Link: NRM York
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: York's National Railway Museum is dedicated to over three centuries of the history of rail. Suitable for all ages.
Museum picture Royal Armouries Museum (Leeds)
Where: Leeds (map) Link: Royal Armouries
Open: Every day 10am–5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Houses a large part of the national collection of arms and armour, with over 8,500 objects in five galleries.
Museum picture Streetlife Museum
Where: Hull (map) Link: Streetlife Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1.30pm-4.30pm.
Description: Museum of transport, exploring two centuries of the history of transportation. Things to see include a 1940s high street and a tram.
Museum picture Tolson Museum
Where: Huddersfield (map) Link: Tolson Museum
Open: Tue-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun midday-5pm.
Description: Victorian mansion house with collections including local history, Roman history, archaeology, textiles, transport and birds.
Museum picture Weston Park Museum
Where: Sheffield (map) Link: Weston Park Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm.
Description: Interactive history display from a traditional butcher's shop to Snowy the polar bear.
Museum picture Wilberforce House Museum
Where: Hull (map) Link: Wilberforce House
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1.30pm-4.30pm. Closed Good Friday, 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Museum set in the birthplace of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce.

Free north west England museums

Museum and gallery picture Bolton Museum, Art Gallery & Aquarium
Where: Bolton (map) Link: Bolton Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm (opens at 9.30am on Wed), Sun 10am-4pm.
Description: Exhibitions on archaeology, art, botany, Egyptology, entomology, geology, social history and zoology.
Museum picture Gallery Oldham
Where: Oldham (map) Link: Gallery Oldham
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm.
Description: Gallery Oldham has amassed 12,000 items since it began collecting in 1883.
Museum picture Greater Manchester Police Museum & Archives
Where: Manchester (map) Link: GMPM & Archives
Open: Tues 10.30am-3.30pm, Thu during school holidays and other weekdays by appointment.
Description: Museum exploring forensic science and forgery. Things to see include a range of police equipment and local uniforms.
Museum picture Grosvenor Museum
Where: Chester (map) Link: Grosvenor Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10.30am-5pm, Sun 1pm-4pm.
Description: Exploring the city and people of Chester, as well as changing exhibitions.
Museum and Gallery picture Harris Museum & Art Gallery Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Preston (map) Link: Harris Museum
Open: Mon 11am-5pm, Tue-Sat 10am-5pm. Closed bank hols.

Description: Collections of fine and decorative art, a contemporary art show and a range of artefacts.

Sadiya Ali reviewed this museum for MSE using the form below. She says: "Preston's Harris Museum and Art Gallery stands above the city centre like a proud mother. Its elegant facade doesn't disappoint.

"Alongside its quirky and interactive historical displays and ancient artefacts, you'll find intriguing artwork lining the grand stairs and challenging contemporary art installations. It's an artistic and historical oasis."

Museum picture Imperial War Museum North
Where: Trafford Park, Manchester (map) Link: IMW North
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Documents the impact of war on individual lives, with a 360-degree sound and photograph show and family activities.
Museum picture International Slavery Museum
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: Slavery Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm
Description: The history of the international slave trade, looking at slavery today and in the past.
Gallery picture Lady Lever Art Gallery
Where: Port Sunlight, Wirral (map) Link: Lady Lever Gallery
Open: Every day 10am-5pm
Description: Lots to see, including paintings, furniture, tapestries, sculpture and Chinese collections.
Museum picture Lancaster City Museum
Where: Lancaster (map) Link: Lancaster City Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm
Description: Dedicated to Lancaster's diverse history, from the Roman era onwards. Also contains a range of artworks.
Museum picture Lancashire Infantry Museum
Where: Preston (map) Link: Lancashire Infantry Museum
Open: Tue-Thu, Sat 10am-4pm. Closed over Christmas and New Year.
Description: The displays, archive and military history library narrate the story of the Regiment from 1689 to the 21st century.
Museum picture Merseyside Maritime Museum
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: Merseyside Museum
Open: Every day, 10am-5pm
Description: Exploring the history of the port, including objects from wrecks, ships, boats, paintings and uniforms.
Museum picture Museum of the Manchester Regiment
Where: Ashton-under-Lyne (map) Link: Manchester Regiment
Open: Tue-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 10am-1pm.
Description: Describes the varied history of the Manchester Regiment soldiers, taking visitors from 1758 to 1958.
Museum picture Museum of Science & Industry Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Castlefield, Manchester (map) Link: MOSI
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

Description: Manchester's industrial and scientific history is displayed in five listed buildings, with a wide range of collections.

Irene Djan says: "Went with the family (10yr old & 3yr old) and can't fault it! Staff were friendly and well informed and the activities, exhibitions and demonstrations were fantastic."

Museum picture Nantwich Museum
Where: Nantwich (map) Link: Nantwich Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10.30am-4.30pm
Description: Describes the history of Nantwich, including the story of Roman salt production, the 1644 Battle of Nantwich, and the clothing and shoe industries.
Gallery picture Open Eye Gallery
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: Open Eye Gallery
Open: Tue-Sun 10.30am-5.30pm. Closed Mon (except bank hols) and during exhibition changeovers.
Description: Focuses mainly on photography, featuring photos from the 1930s to the present day.
Museum picture National Football Museum
Where: Manchester (map) Link: Football Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Houses the ball from the 1966 World Cup Final, the oldest FA Cup trophy and other memorabilia.
Museum picture People’s History Museum
Where: Manchester (map) Link: People's Museum
Open: Every day, 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Documents trade union and labour movement history.
Museum picture Portland Basin Museum
Where: Ashton-under-Lyne (map) Link: Portland Basin Museum
Open: Tue-Sun 10am-4pm Oct-Jun and 10am-5pm Jul-Sep. Closed Mon except bank hols.
Description: Visitors can experience the region's industrial, farming and mining past. Especially suitable for families.
Gallery picture Richard Goodall Gallery
Where: Manchester (map) Link: Richard Goodall Gallery
Open: Wed-Fri 11am - 5pm, Sat midday-4pm.
Description: One of the largest commercial galleries in the UK, housing contemporary and rock art pieces by Linda McCartney, Mark Seliger, Ronnie Wood and many more.
Museum and gallery picture Salford Museum & Art Gallery
Where: Salford (map) Link: Salford Museum & Art Gallery
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-4.45pm, Sat & Sun midday-4pm.
Description: Attractions include a huge Victorian gallery and a recreation of a typical Victorian 'northern' street.
Museum picture Sudley House
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: Sudley House
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed from 2pm 24 Dec & all day 25-26 Dec & 1 Jan.
Description: Liverpool-based former-home of a Victorian merchant, complete wtih period furniture and original paintings.
Gallery picture Tate Liverpool
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: Tate Liverpool
Open: Every day 10am - 5.50pm (opens at 10.30am on first Wed of every month and 6 Oct-6 Apr closes 5pm).
Description: One of four Tate museums, it shows pieces from the Tate collection, as well as special contemporary exhibitions.
Museum picture The Manchester Museum
Where: Manchester (map) Link: Manchester Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Situated in the University of Manchester, this large museum has 15 galleries with artefacts from across the globe.
Museum and Gallery picture Victoria Gallery & Museum
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: Victoria Gallery & Museum
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 11am-2pm.
Description: Housed at Liverpool University, the museum holds items from 130 years of the city's history.
Gallery picture Walker Art Gallery Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: Walker Art Gallery
Open: Every day, 10am - 5pm. Closed from 2pm 24 Dec and all day 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

Description: Liverpool-based attraction with galleries including paintings, sculpture and decorative art.

MSE user Colette Forrest says: "The Walker is a real treasure. I have been many times and discover something new each time. If you want something for the children, the big art by the front door has lots to offer by way of activities related to paintings in the gallery.

"They have costumes to dress up, microscopes, magnetic games and a showcase that teaches number and observation skills. It's an excellent resource for the under 5s."

Gallery picture Watergate Street Gallery
Where: Chester (map) Link: Watergate Gallery
Open: Every day 9.30am-5pm.
Description: Over 1,000 framed pictures on display, including abstract works, cityscapes, local art and Victorian watercolours.
Museum picture World Museum Liverpool Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Liverpool (map) Link: World Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed from 2pm 24 Dec & all day 25-26 Dec & 1 Jan.

Description: A collection of artefacts from across the globe, with an insect house, theatre, aquarium and planetarium.

MSE user Rebecca says: "As a Scouser, I believe the World Museum is the best in Liverpool. There's loads to do and everyone in the family will find something they love. The planetarium and the bug house are my favourites!

"It's a must-see if you're coming to Liverpool, easy to get to by public transport and central for popping to see everything else in the city."

Ruth also reviewed this museum by using the form below: "Dinosaurs, fossils, elephant skull, an ant farm, spiders - kids are spellbound by this fabulous museum. It also has an aquarium that's better than some expensive attractions, as well as exhibitions which engage and stretch young imaginations in fun ways."

Robert Lunt also sent a review after his visit. He says: "I recently went to Liverpool with my wife and children (ages 11 and 12). My wife was working so me and the lads had eight hours to kill.

"I was going to take them over to the Wirral but they misbehaved so as a punishment (I thought), I took them to the museum. We left six hours later and the boys thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and learnt so much. Thank you, Liverpool."

Free south east England museums

Museum picture Ashmolean Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Oxford (map) Link: Ashmolean Museum
Open: Tue-Sun & bank hol Mons 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

Description: Collections span eastern and western civilisations, charting the aspirations of humanity from the Neolithic era to today.

MSE user Susan Toner says: "Sensational collection displayed intelligently in a splendid melding of the original building and modern extension. There's also excellent food available in the cafe and roof top restaurant, as well as lifts to all floors for those with limited mobility."

Museum picture Eastney Beam Engine House
Where: Portsmouth (map) Link: Beam Engine House
Open: Last complete weekend (Sat-Sun) of every month 1pm-5pm.
Description: Contains a pair of Boulton Watt beam engines and pumps which have been restored to original condition.
Museum picture Guildhall Museum
Where: Rochester, Kent (map) Link: Guildhall Museum
Open: Tue-Sun 10am-4.30pm
Description: This 17th century building showcases the history of the Medway Towns.
Museum and gallery picture Hastings Museum and Art Gallery Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Hastings (map) Link: Hastings Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun midday-5pm (closes 4pm daily Nov-Mar)

Description: Mixture of paintings, the cultures of other lands, and a view of local wildlife today and as it would have been 150 million years ago.

MSE user Keith says: "This museum's well off the tourist beaten track and, importantly, offers free parking! From the invention of TV to Grey Owl (a writer and envirnomentalist from Hastings), with a stop off via the mods and rockers, it's a great museum that's hidden away."

Museum picture Maidstone Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Maidstone, Kent (map) Link: Maidstone Museum
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, bank hols and Sun midday-4pm (closed Sun Nov-Mar).

Description: Exhibition themes include ancient Egyptians (including a 2,700 year-old mummy!), biology, costume and archaeology.

MSE user Roger Cockett sent us his review: "Maidstone Museum's wonderful. It's a 16th century manor with a gallery from Henry VIII's time. Things to see include: Saxon brooches, ladies costumes and Japanese porcelain. The staff are great, especially with kids."

Gallery picture Milton Keynes Gallery
Where: Milton Keynes (map) Link: Milton Keynes Gallery
Open: Tue-Fri 12-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
Description: Showing contemporary art with a variety of seasonal exhibitions.
Museum picture Museum of English Rural Life
Where: Reading (map) Link: Museum of Rural Life
Open: Tue- Fri 9am-5pm, Sat/Sun 2pm-4.30pm
Description: Houses a national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside.
Museum picture Old Town Hall Museum
Where: Hastings (map) Link: Old Town Hall
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun midday-5pm. (Closes 4pm during Nov-Mar.)
Description: The Old Town Hall Museum provides an introduction to the history of the old town of Hastings.
Museum picture Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Where: Oxford (map) Link: Oxford University Museum
Open: Every day, 10am-5pm
Description: Houses Oxford University's scientific collections of zoological, entomological and geological artefacts.
Museum picture Pitt Rivers Museum Reviewed by MoneySavers
Where: Oxford (map) Link: Pitt Rivers Museum
Open: Mon midday-4.30pm, Tue-Sat and bank hols 10am-4.30pm. Closed Easter Sunday.

Description: Founded in 1884, it features a range of ethnographic and archaeological artefacts from across the globe.

MSE user Cathy Moranne says: "This is my favourite museum in the UK. It's arranged in a really different way, with similar artefacts displayed all together instead of being from a specific area or time. You can hunt the wooden mice, see shrunken heads and even a witch in a bottle - fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials will love it!"

The shrunken heads were a hit with Chris Reeve too: "Brilliant quirky museum with vast displays of really obscure objects - my favourites were the shrunken heads - kids will love them!"

Museum picture Portsmouth City Museum
Where: Portsmouth (map) Link: City Museum
Open: Tue-Sun and bank hols 10am-5pm Apr-Sep and 10am-5.30pm Oct-Mar. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: Museum devoted to Portsmouth's people. Also has temporary galleries with a range of seasonal and varied shows.
Museum picture Portsmouth Natural History Museum
Where: Southsea (map) Link: Portsmouth Museum
Open: Tue-Sun and bank hols 10am-5.30pm (closes 5pm Oct-Mar). Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.
Description: The museum tells the story of the wild things of the riverbank, marshes, woods and urban areas of Portsmouth.
Museum picture Reading Museum
Where: Reading (map) Link: Reading Museum
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun, bank hols and Mon during Berkshire school half-terms 11am-4pm. Closed 24 Dec-1 Jan and Easter Sunday.
Description: Collections on a range of subjects, including the local environment and history.
Museum picture Riverside Museum
Where: Reading (map) Link: Riverside Museum
Open: Every day 10am-6pm (Oct-Mar closes 3pm).
Description: Displays the story of Reading's two rivers - the Kennet and the Thames - through interactive exhibitions.
Museum picture Royal Armouries Museum Fort Nelson
Where: Fareham (map) Link: Fort Nelson Museum
Open: Every day 10am-5pm (10.30am-4pm Nov-Mar. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Features the Royal Armouries artillery, with more than 350 big guns and cannons.
Gallery picture Southampton City Art Gallery
Where: Southampton (map) Link: Southampton Gallaery
Open: Mon-Fri, 10am-3pm, Sat 10am-5pm. Closed 24 Dec- 1 Jan.
Description: Internationally-renowned for its impressive art collection, the gallery spans eight centuries of European art history.
Museum picture The Fast Museum
Where: Farnborough (map) Link: The Fast Museum
Open: Sat/Sun and bank hol Mons, 10am - 4pm.
Description: Dedicated to aviation and its colourful history. Things to see include a working wind tunnel in action, early aviation photos and more.
Museum and Gallery picture The Lightbox Art Gallery & Museum
Where: Woking, Surrey (map) Link: Lightbox Gallery
Open: Tue-Sat 10.30am-5pm, Sun 11am - 5pm.
Description: Two spacious galleries host a huge range of exhibitions of contemporary art from local and nationally-famous artists.
Know of a museum we've missed? Please post in the Free Museums discussion.

Add your feedback

Want to review a recent visit to one of the above museums? Send us your feedback in no more than 50 words and we'll add the best reviews to our write-ups. For some inspiration, see Martin's review of the Coventry Transport Museum in the West Midlands

Other ways to cut the cost

As well as the free museums and galleries listed above, there are tons of permanent ways to cut the cost of family fun.

  • Save 1/3 with Tesco Clubcard

    One of the cheapest ways to entertain kids is to spend your Tesco Clubcard vouchers on days out. This way, you effectively get them for a third of the normal price. This is because 100 Clubcard points are only worth £1 if you use them in-store.

    There are nearly 200 days out on offer, including Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and National Trust Scotland properties. For a full list of ways to maximise Clubcard points, check out the Loyalty Schemes guide.

  • 2for1 days out in London and the south of England

    There's a trick to get 2for1 activities to hundreds of theatres, museums and theme parks throughout southern England, with National Rail's Days Out Guide scheme. To take advantage, you need a train ticket valid on the day you want to visit. With savings of up to £25, buy the cheapest £2ish ticket and you’ll still be quids in.

    As an example, London Zoo costs £23 for adults and £17 for kids, so entry for a family of four is normally a jumbo £80. But buy a £1.90 single to and from any station, present it with the voucher, and you’ll slash the cost to £40, saving £38.10.

    You can print as many vouchers as you like and the cheapest person gets in free. Attractions include everything from Madame Tussauds to Shakespeare's houses.

  • 2for1 London days out

    Another useful way to get 2for1 vouchers for theme parks, attractions, shows and restaurants in London is through National Express's London 2for1 Offers scheme. This has printable 2for1 vouchers for a range of days out, including Madame Tussauds, the London Dungeon and the London Aquarium.

    You'll need two valid National Express coach tickets to London to use them, so this is good if you're planning to get the coach to the capital anyway.

    Even if you're not travelling by coach, it may be worth getting two cheap National Express tickets to London from a nearby destination, though make sure they don't cost more than you'd save with the voucher.

    You'll need to register after you've selected your offer in order to print the vouchers, which are personalised. Expiry dates vary, so make sure you check these on the voucher before you go.

Join in the Forum Discussion:
Free Museums discussion
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