Free museums & galleries

Free museums & galleries

Listing of all the UK's free museums and art galleries

If it's something different to do at the weekend or something to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays, we have it all here.

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  • London

    Bank of England Museum

    Where: City of London (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. Last entry 4.30pm, closed bank hols. Open 10am-1pm 24/31 Dec.

    Description: This museum shows objects from the Bank of England's 320 years of existence, from cartoons to banknotes to furniture. You can even try to lift a real gold bar!

    Reviews: 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."

    British Museum

    Where: Bloomsbury (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5.30pm, till 8.30pm Fri (except Good Friday). Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: An always busy and always fascinating collection of over eight million objects. Themes include Leaders & Rulers, Animals, and Money.

    Geffrye Museum

    Where: Hoxton (view map)

    Open: Closed until 2020.

    Description: Special exhibitions cost £3, 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.

    Grant Museum of Zoology 

    Where: Euston (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 1pm-5pm. Closed Christmas & Easter.

    Description: The museum's 67,000 specimens cover the entire animal kingdom, making this one giant animal graveyard!

    Horniman Museum and Gardens

    Where: Forest Hill (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-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.

    Hunterian Museum

    Where: Lincoln's Inn Fields (view map)

    Open: Closed until autumn 2021.

    Description: Museum of anatomy, natural history, osteology and pathology, based on John Hunter's collection of 15,000 specimens and preparations.

    Imperial War Museum

    Where: Lambeth (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

    Description: Permanent displays include the Holocaust Exhibition and Peace and Security from 1945. Some other exhibitions may charge a small fee.

    Reviews: Jane Fergusson reviewed this museum using the form below. She says: "Absolutely amazing! Better for ages 7 and upwards, although there are free activities for younger children. Very interesting throughout, seeing part of the Twin Towers meant that the history was right up until modern times. Recommended highly."

    MSE user Helen Cobley tells us: "I could have spent days here, the amount of things to see is vast. From planes and uniforms to everyday things like ration books and personal letters. The Holocaust museum is harrowing and people were moved to tears, but it's important something so awful is documented for future generations to learn from."

    Museum of Croydon

    Where: Croydon (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10.30am-5pm. Closed bank holidays.

    Description: Housed in Croydon Clocktower it shows the history of Croydon through different themes such as work & play, life & love, home & community, trends & movement.

    Museum of London

    Where: London Wall (view map)

    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.

    Reviews: 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 of London Docklands

    Where: West India Quay (view map)

    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.

    National Army Museum

    Where: Chelsea (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5.30pm (open until 8pm on the first Wed of the month). Closed 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Five galleries exploring the history and impact of the British Army, including tanks, uniforms and the skeleton of Napoleon’s horse. There’s also a play base and activity packs for kids.

    National Maritime Museum

    Where: Greenwich (view map)

    Open: 10am-5pm every day. Closed 24-26 Dec.

    Description: Dedicated to all things nautical. Includes the Maritime Galleries and the Queen's House.

    National Portrait Gallery

    Where: Just off Trafalgar Square (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Fri until 9pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

    Description: Founded in 1856, it has over 200,000 portraits, from modern subjects to paintings from the 16th century.

    Reviews: 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."

    Natural History Museum

    Where: South Kensington (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5.50pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

    Description: The museum features life and earth science specimens. Collections include Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology. Popular with visitors are the earthquake room and the dinosaur gallery.

    Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

    Where: Euston (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 1pm-5pm.

    Description: An estimated 80,000 archaeological finds help take you on a journey through the history of Egypt.

    RAF Museum

    Where: Hendon (view map)

    Open: Mar - Oct every day 10am-6pm. Nov -Feb every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Ragged School Museum

    Where: Mile End (view map)

    Open: Wed/Thu 10am-5pm, first Sun of each month 2pm-5pm.

    Description: Lots to see, including a Victorian East End kitchen, a reconstructed Victorian classroom and several gallery areas. Visit during school holidays on a Weds or Thurs for family days and fun activities.

    Saatchi Gallery

    Where: Sloane Square (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-6pm.

    Description: Contemporary art from both young unknowns and international artists including Richard Wilson's popular 20:50 oil installation.

    Science Museum

    Where: South Kensington (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-6pm, except 24-26 Dec. School holiday opening hours 10am-6.30pm. Last Wednesday of every month open 6.45pm-10pm for adults.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Sir John Soane's Museum

    Where: Lincoln's Inn Fields (view map)

    Open: Wed-Sun & bank hols, 10am-5pm.

    Description: Over 45,000 historical objects including antiquities, paintings and architectural models in a house built by Sir John Soane to store his collections.

    Tate Britain

    Where: Pimlico (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Last admission 5.15pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

    Description: One of four Tate galleries, Tate Britain has a vast range of British and international art from 1500 onwards.

    Tate Modern

    Where: Bankside (view map)

    Open: Sun-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm. Open on bank hols. Last admissions 5.15pm/9.15pm.

    Description: Large, striking, modern art gallery featuring international works from 1900 onwards. Set in a former power station.

    The National Gallery

    The National Gallery

    Where: Trafalgar Square (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am–6pm, Fri 10am–9pm. Closed 1 Jan, 24-26 Dec.

    Description: Over 2,300 paintings, including works like Claude Monet's The Water Garden at Giverny and Vincent van Gough's Sunflowers.

    The Wallace Collection

    Where: Off Oxford Street (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

    Description: Impressive art collection featuring works by Titian, Rembrandt, Hals and Velázquez.

    Victoria & Albert Museum

    Where: South Kensington (view map)

    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.

    V&A Museum of Childhood

    Where: Bethnal Green (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am - 5.45pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

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

    Reviews: 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!"

    Wellcome Collection

    Where: Euston Road (view map)

    Open: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 10am-6pm, Thu 10am-10pm, Sun 11am-6pm.

    Description: Varied attraction with lots to see and do, focusing on the history and progression of medicine around the world.

  • Northern Ireland

    Armagh County Museum

    Where: Armagh (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-1pm & 2pm-5pm. Closed 11-12 Jul, 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Features displays on the natural world, art and history.

    North Down Museum

    Where: Bangor (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat & bank hols 10am-4:30pm, Sun 12noon-4:30pm. Closed Mon except during Jul & Aug.  

    Description: Displays regional history from the Bronze Age onwards. Highlights include a replica Viking longhouse and monk’s cell. 

    Ulster Museum

    Where: Belfast (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun and bank hols 10am-5pm.

    Description: A vast collection of artefacts from the natural sciences, art and history, ancient relics and more.

  • Scotland

    Aberdeen Art Gallery

    Where: Aberdeen (view map)

    Open: Closed for refurbishment

    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.

    Aberdeen Maritime Museum

    Where: Aberdeen (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-3pm.

    Description: Displays on the North Sea gas and oil industry, shipbuilding and Aberdeen's long relationship with the sea.

    Alyth Museum

    Where: Alyth, Perthshire (view map)

    Open: Closed until Wed 1 May 2019

    Description: Collection of pictures and objects documenting the history of life in the area – highlights include the Blairgowrie Drunk’s Cart.  

    Broughty Castle Museum

    Where: Dundee (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12.30pm-4pm (closed on Mon during Oct-Mar).

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Burrell Collection Gallery

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    Open: Closed for refurbishment until 2020.

    Description: An eclectic collection compiled by shipping magnate Sir William Burrell and later donated to the city of Glasgow. Includes works by Rodin, Degas and Cézanne.

    City Art Centre

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm.

    Description: A nine storey former warehouse with collections ranging from Egyptian and Roman objects to Star Wars costumes and artwork.

    Fergusson Gallery

    Where: Perth (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm. Also open Sun 12noon-4.30pm Apr-Oct.

    Description: Holds the collection of artist JD Fergusson, who had ancestral links to Perthshire and was associated with the Scottish Colourists movement. Also includes the archives of dancer Margaret Morris, Fergusson’s lifelong partner.

    Gallery of Modern Art

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    Open: Mon-Wed & Sat 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-8pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm. 

    Description: Four galleries displaying works by contemporary artists from Glasgow and around the world. 

    Highland Folk Museum

    Where: Newtonmore (view map)

    Open: 28 Mar-31 Aug open daily 10.30am-5.30pm (Sep 1-Oct 31 11am-4.30pm).

    Description: Showcasing 300 years of Highland rural life.

    Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Inverness (view map)

    Open: Tue- Thu 10am-6pm (Apr-Oct), Fri- Sat 11pm-4pm

    Description: An eclectic mix of geology, archaeology and fine arts and crafts, all made, used or collected in the Highlands.

    Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1-2 Jan.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Meffan Museum and Art Gallery

    Where: Forfar (view map)

    Open: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm.

    Description: Museum has a reconstructed cobbled street complete with sweet shop and knockmaker’s workshop, as well as a collection of Pictish carved stones and an ever-changing gallery of work by local and national artists. 

    Museum of Childhood

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Mon & Thu-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm. 

    Description: Newly refurbished museum showing a huge collection of toys and games through the ages. 

    Museum on the Mound

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, bank hol Mon 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.

    National Museum of Scotland

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm (26 Dec and 1 Jan 12pm-5pm). Closed Christmas day.

    Description: The history, land and culture of Scotland. Artefacts include steam engines and ornate quaichs (drinking cups).

    People's Palace and Winter Gardens

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.

    Description: Museum narrating Glasgow's social heritage and the story of the city from 1750 onwards.

    Perth Museum and Art Gallery

    Where: Perth (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat (and Sun Apr-Oct) 10am-5pm. 

    Description: Collections of natural history and local history as well as art and photography, with in-gallery activities for kids and families. 

    Provand's Lordship

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    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.

    Riverside Museum

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    Open: Mon-Thu & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri & Sun 11am-5pm.

    Description: Dedicated to sea and land transportation.

    Reviews: 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."

    Rozelle House Galleries

    Where: Ayr (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 12noon-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.

    Savings Banks Museum

    Where: Dumfries (view map)

    Open: Apr-Sep: 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.

    Scotland Street School Museum

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    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.

    Reviews: 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."

    Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm. 

    Description: Home of Scotland’s renowned collection of modern art, set in an impressive neoclassical building with a sculpture park in the grounds.

    Scottish National Portrait Gallery

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm. 

    Description: Gallery holding the national collection of portraits on Scottish subjects, all housed in a striking neo-Gothic palace complete with impressive friezes and sculptures. 

    Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

    Where: Stirling (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10.30am-5pm and Sun 2pm - 5pm.

    Description: Founded in 1874 as The Smith Institute, the Stirling Smith holds historical artefacts and paintings of Stirlingshire.

    St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art

    Where: Glasgow (view map)

    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. Closed 25-26 Dec and 1-2 Jan.

    Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life

    Where: Coatbridge (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm (closes 4pm Nov-March).

    Description: Interactive museum displaying social history and working machinery, and offering guided tours of a mine shaft and miners’ row. There’s also a well-equipped playpark for kids.  

    The People's Story Museum

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Wed-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm.

    Description: Explore how Edinburgh's people have worked and played since the 18th century.

    The Writers' Museum

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Wed-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm.

    Description: Celebrate the lives of three of Scotland's finest writers - Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott & Robert Louis Stephenson.

    Trinity House Museum

    Where: Edinburgh (view map)

    Open: Guided tours only. Available Mon-Fri. Book in advance (0131 554 3289).

    Description: Museum with a collection of maritime artefacts, located in a Georgian house.

  • North East England

    Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum

    Where: South Shields (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-4pm, Sun 1pm-4pm. Closed from Oct, except for schools and pre-booked groups, till Apr.

    Description: The fort formerly guarded the entrance to the River Tyne. It now shows visitors life in Roman Britain.

    Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

    Where: Gateshead (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Impressive contemporary art venue, with four galleries, a library, an archive, two restaurants and a cafe bar.

    Biscuit Factory Gallery

    Where: Newcastle (view map)

    Open: Sun-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-6pm.

    Description: Paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photography, ceramics, jewellery and glass by artists from all over the world.

    Dorman Museum

    Where: Middlesborough (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10.30am-3.30pm.

    Description: Social history museum celebrating Middlesbrough’s history and contributions, including exhibitions on influential Victorian designer Christopher Dresser and local Linthorpe Art Pottery.

    Discovery Museum

    Where: Newcastle (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm.

    Description: Museum about the Tyneside area, including science, technology, and its maritime and military history.

    Great North Museum: Hancock

    Where: Newcastle (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Hatton Gallery

    Where: Newcastle (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm.

    Description: A range of contemporary and historical art exhibitions.

    Laing Art Gallery

    Where: Newcastle (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. Closed Mon except bank hols.

    Description: Historic and contemporary art and sculpture.

    Museum of Archaeology

    Where: Durham (view map)

    Open: Mon 12noon-5pm, Tue-Sun 10am-5pm.

    Description: Displays objects from prehistoric, Roman and medieval times. 

    Monkwearmouth Station Museum

    Where: Sunderland (view map)

    Open: Permanently closed.

    Description: Museum with interactive galleries. Things to see include the children's gallery.

    National Glass Centre

    Where: Sunderland (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm except 24 & 31 Dec 10am-4pm. Closed 25-26 Dec & 1 Jan.

    Description: Promotes the art, history and science of glass through exhibitions. Glass blowing demonstrations take place daily.

    National Railway Museum Shildon

    Where: Co Durham (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm during BST (Closes 4pm during GMT). 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.

    RNLI Grace Darling Museum

    Where: Bamburgh (view map)

    Open: Easter-Sep every day 10am-5pm, Oct-Easter Tue-Sun & bank hols 10am-4pm.

    Description: Museum commemorating Grace Darling, a Victorian woman who risked her life to rescue nine people from a shipwreck. Includes interactive displays and the original boat.

    Shipley Art Gallery

    Where: Gateshead (view map)

    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.

    South Shields Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: South Shields (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-4pm.

    Description: Museum and gallery which tells south Tyneside's history, with exhibits, artworks and colourful displays.

    Stephenson Railway Museum

    Where: North Shields (view map)

    Open: Varies, see website.

    Description: Museum that recreates the steam railway era. Based at the home of George Stephenson's engine Billy.

    Reviews: MSE user Cheryl sent us her review using the form below. She says: "This is a small museum with a wooden train set with limited trains. It's great for younger children. The train rides don't always run so ring ahead if it's important and there's a charge for this. It's located just around the corner from the Silverlink so there's good bus links. It has indoor and outdoor picnic spots and during the summer there are special events. I would recommend spending an hour at the museum, if you're not going when there's an event. There's also a train ride for little ones."

    Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

    Where: Sunderland (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12pm-4pm. Closed 23 Dec-6 Jan.

    Description: Museum in the city centre with an art gallery, exhibition space and gardens.

    Woodhorn Museum

    Where: Ashington, Northumberland (view map)

    Open: Wed-Sun (every day in school holidays) 10am-5pm (4pm Oct-Mar). Closed 21 Dec-2 Jan.

    Description: Only free for children under 16 - adults need to pay £7 (including unlimited returns for 12 months). 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.

  • Wales

    Big Pit: National Coal Museum

    Where: Blaenavon, near Abergavenny (view map)

    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.

    Reviews: 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."

    Cardiff Story Museum & Gallery

    Where: Cardiff (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sun 10am-4pm. Closed 24 Dec from 1.30pm, 25-27 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.

    Mostyn Art Gallery

    Where: Llandudno (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10.30am-4pm. 

    Description: Six galleries show the best of Wales’s contemporary art, as well as pieces from around the world. 

    National Museum Cardiff

    Where: Cardiff (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun, 10am-5pm. Closed Mon except bank hols.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    National Roman Legion Museum

    Where: Newport (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm

    Description: Features artefacts from Roman Caerleon, the second Augustan Legion's base.

    National Slate Museum

    Where: Llanberis, Gwynedd (view map)

    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.

    National Waterfront Museum

    Where: Swansea (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm

    Description: Focuses on Welsh industry and innovation from 300 years ago to the present day.

    National Wool Museum

    Where: Near Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm (Apr-Sep), Tue-Sat 10am-5pm (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.

    St Fagans National History Museum

    Where: Cardiff (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm including bank hols.

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

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

    Swansea Museum

    Where: Swansea (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10am-4:30pm. Open bank hol Mon.

    Description: Wales's oldest museum opened in 1841, and tells the story of Swansea and its people.

  • Eastern England

    Colchester Natural History Museum

    Where: Colchester (view map)

    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.

    Hollytrees Museum

    Where: Colchester (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. Closed Sun, 24-27 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Includes the story of Hollytrees, an elegant Georgian town house dating from 1718.

    Kettle's Yard

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Open: The House is open Tue-Sun 12am-5pm. The galleries are open Tue-Sun 11am-5pm. Closed Mon except bank hols..

    Description: House and gallery containing a rich variety of modern art, founded by HS 'Jim' Ede for visual arts and music.

    Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10:30am-4:30pm, Sun 12noon-4:30pm.

    Description: Artefacts spanning almost two million years of human history, with items from every continent.

    Natural History Museum at Tring

    Where: Tring, Hertfordshire (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Polar Museum

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat & bank hols 10am-4pm. Closed 25 Dec-1 Jan.

    Description: Small museum displaying the stories of British polar exploration, including artefacts from early Antarctic expeditions.

    Royston & District Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Royston, Hertfordshire (view map)

    Open: Wed, Thu & Sat 10am-5pm.

    Description: Museum and art gallery, with Royston's heritage detailed in its Royston Tapestry.

    Stockwood Discovery Centre

    Where: Luton (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm (14 Feb-31 Oct), 10am-4pm (1 Nov-13 Feb)

    Description: Collections include rural crafts, social history, archaeology, and the Mossman collection of carriages.

    The Fitzwilliam Museum

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm. Sun & bank hol Mon 12-5pm. Closed Good Friday, 24-26 & 31 Dec-1 Jan.

    Description: Compact museum housing a range of displays, including British, Italian, Spanish and Flemish art, and Grecian, Roman and Egyptian artefacts.

    The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-1pm & 2pm-5pm. Sat 10am-4pm. Closed Good Friday and 23 Dec-13 Jan.

    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.

    Wardown Park Museum

    Where: Luton (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm (14 Feb-31 Oct), 10am - 4pm (1 Nov-13 Feb).

    Description: Explores the history of Luton. Includes a collection of over 700 hats from the 1700s onwards.

    Whipple Museum of the History of Science

    Where: Cambridge (view map)

    Open: Closed for refurbishment until Apr 2019.

    Description: Devoted to the history of science, with scientific models and instruments from the Middle Ages onwards.

  • South West England

    Athelstan Museum

    Where: Malmesbury, Wilts (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10:30am-4:30pm, Sun 11:30am-3:30pm.

    Description: Explores Malmesbury's history. Artefacts include paintings, drawings, engravings, photographs, coins and more.

    Blaise Castle House Museum

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Open: Closed for winter 2019, reopening Apr 4. Thu-Sun 11am-4pm. Closed 25-26 Dec.

    Description: Includes casts of classical and neo-classical reliefs and sculptures, a model train collection, period costumes, and the Bristol at Home galleries.

    Blandford Town Museum

    Where: Blandford Forum, Dorset (view map)

    Open: Open daily 10:30am- 4:30pm (April to October only)

    Description: A small but packed museum housing artefacts from Blandford Forum and the surrounding villages.

    Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Bank hol and school hol Mon 10am-5pm

    Description: Features exhibitions on Egypt and dinosaurs. Plus Victorian and European art.

    Burton Art Gallery & Museum

    Where: Bideford, Devon (view map)

    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.

    House of Marbles

    Where: Bovey Tracey, Devon (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10-5pm. 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.

    Reviews: 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."

    M-Shed Museum

    Where: Bristol (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Closed Mon except bank hol and school hols.

    Description: Dockside galleries (designed to mimic the 1950s style) tell the history of Bristol through film, photography and quirky items.

    Museum In The Park

    Where: Stroud, Gloucestershire (view map)

    Open: Tue-Fri 10am-4:30pm, Sat/Sun and bank hols 11am-4:30pm.

    Description: Set in Stratford Park, the museum is a 17th century former wool merchant and celebrates the history of Stroud.

    Poole Museum

    Where: Poole, Dorset (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm during summer and Mon-Sat 10am-4pm and Sun 12pm-4pm during winter. Closed 24 Dec (pm), 25-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: About Poole's history and inhabitants, with a terrace and visitor lounge with vistas over the Old Town and Poole Harbour.

    Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery

    Where: Plymouth (view map)

    Open: Closed for development.

    Description: Artefacts and artworks from Ancient Egypt, archaeology, maritime and local history, fine art and decorative art collections.

    Red House Museum

    Where: Christchurch, Dorset (view map)

    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.

    Saltash Heritage Museum

    Where: Saltash, Cornwall (view map)

    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.

    Victoria Art Gallery

    Where: Bath (view map)

    Open: Daily 10.30am-5pm. Closed 25-26 Dec & 1 Jan.

    Description: A wide variety of exhibitions overflowing with pieces from artists both past and present.

  • West Midlands

    Bantock House Museum

    Where: Wolverhampton (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 11am-5pm (Oct-Mar Sat/Sun 11am-5pm).

    Description: The museum displays Edwardian period décor with arts and crafts, as well as a range of interactive exhibitions exploring local history subjects.

    Bewdley Museum

    Where: Bewdley, Worcs (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-4.30pm

    Description: Especially suitable for families, this museum focuses on local crafts and trades, with a brass foundry, gardens and more.

    Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Birmingham (view map)

    Open: Mon-Thu 10am-5pm, Fri 10.30am-5pm, Sat/Sun 10am-5pm.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Granary Art Gallery

    Where: Weston Park, Shropshire (view map)

    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.

    Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

    Where: Coventry (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12pm-4pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Has collections of archaeology, natural history, social and industrial history and visual arts as well as a history centre.

    Hereford Museum and Art Gallery

    Where: Hereford (view map)

    Open: Tue-Fri 10am-4pm and Sat 10am-12.30pm.

    Description: Features regularly changing exhibitions with plenty on local history, and located in a Victorian gothic building.

    Ikon Gallery

    Where: Birmingham (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 11am-5pm. Closed Mon, except bank hols.

    Description: Features a range of different media, including painting, installation, film, sound and photography.

    Lapworth Museum of Geology

    Where: Birmingham (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 12noon-5pm.

    Description: Collections of rocks, fossils and minerals as well as geological equipment and models, with over 250,000 specimens in total.

    Leather Museum

    Where: Walsall (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-4pm (Nov-Mar), 10am-5pm (Apr-Oct). Closed Sun and Mon (except Easter Monday), Good Friday, Easter Sunday, May Day.

    Description: Take a walk thorugh this restored factory and discover Walsall's leather-making past.

    RAF Museum Cosford

    Where: Shifnal, Shropshire (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm (Mar-Oct), 10am-4pm (Nov-Feb). Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Royal Birmingham Society of Artists

    Where: Birmingham (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10.30am-5.30pm, 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.

    The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Stoke-on-Trent (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

    Description: This museum and gallery looks at the heritage of the Potteries. Contains works by Picasso, Degas and Durer, has a captivating secret garden and a WW2 Spitfire.

    Tudor House Museum

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Open: Wed, Thu & Sat 10am-4pm.

    Description: 16th-century house full of memorabilia from its rich history as a weavers’ workshop, tavern and later a property of chocolate heir Richard Cadbury. There are also games, dressing up and an activity trail for kids.

    Wolverhampton Art Gallery

    Where: Wolverhampton (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10.30am-4.30pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

    Description: Houses on of the UK's most impressive Pop Art collections including pieces by Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein.

    Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum

    Where: Worcester (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10.30am-4.30pm. Closed Sun, bank hols, Good Friday, Easter Mon.

    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.

  • East Midlands

    Abington Park Museum

    Where: Northampton (view map)

    Open: Thu-Sun 12pm-4pm during Nov-Mar. Also open Tue-Sun during school holidays, and on bank hols in Apr-Oct.

    Description: Displays the history of the Northamptonshire Regiment & Yeomanry, as well as past and present leather design.

    Abbey Pumping Station

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Open: Every day Feb-Oct 11am-4.30pm. Opening times may vary due to special events. Closed Nov-Jan.

    Description: This museum looks into the region's history of science, technology and industry.

    Derby Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Derby (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-4pm.

    Description: There's plenty to see here, including two Egyptian mummies, a military gallery and a collection of Derby porcelain.

    Harley Gallery

    Where: Worksop, Notts (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-4.30pm. Closed over Christmas and Easter Sunday.

    Description: Set in the tranquil surroundings of the Welbeck Estate, the gallery is home to creative works of hand-crafted works of art.

    Jewry Wall Museum

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Open: Closed for refurbishment 'until further notice'.

    Description: Packed with a range of different things to see, including medieval glass and Roman artifacts.

    Museum of Lincolnshire Life

    Where: Lincoln (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-4pm. Closed 24-26 Dec, 31 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Community museum dedicated to all aspects of Lincolnshire's social history from 1750 onwards.

    Newarke Houses Museum & Gardens

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

    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".

    New Walk Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 11am-4.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Closed 24-26 Dec, 31 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Themes include Egyptians, Wild Space and World Arts, plus fine art displays, with works by Laurence Stephen Lowry and Francis Bacon.

    Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

    Where: Northampton (view map)

    Open: Closed until late 2019.

    Description: It features a range of subjects, including local history and the arts. It's famous for its shoe collection.

    Reviews: 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."

    Nottingham Contemporary

    Where: Nottingham (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat and bank hols 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

    Description: Built in a historic area, home to the medieval town hall and the city's Victorian railway.

    Pickford's House Museum

    Where: Derby (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm.

    Description: Museum of Georgian life and costume, including Georgian replica rooms, plus displays of toys and toy theatres upstairs.

    Discover Stamford

    Where: Stamford, Lincs (view map)

    Open: Mon-Wed and Fri 9am-5pm, Thu 9am-6pm; Sat 9am-4pm. Closed bank hols, 24-26 Dec, 31 Dec and 1 Jan.

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

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

    The Guildhall

    Where: Leicester (view map)

    Open: Every day 11am-4.30pm.

    Description: Meet infamous pickpockets 'Emma Smith' and 'Crankie Gemmie' in the atmospheric Victorian police cells.

  • Yorkshire and Humber

    Bishops' House

    Where: Sheffield (view map)

    Open: Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. Closed 25 Dec and Easter Sunday.

    Description: A well-preserved timber-framed house, typifying the smaller English domestic house in the 16th and 17th centuries.

    Bolling Hall

    Where: Bradford (view map)

    Open: Wed-Fri & bank hols 11am-4pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm, open Easter Monday 11am-4pm. Closed Good Fri and 24 Dec-2 Jan..

    Description: Features period decor from different eras, including a bed made by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House.

    Bradford Industrial Museum

    Where: Bradford (view map)

    Open: Tue-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat & Sun 11am-4pm. Closed Good Friday.

    Description: Things to see include textile machinery, motor vehicles and engineering.

    Ferens Art Gallery

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am- 4:30pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Closed 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Houses a collection of sculptures and paintings, as well as a children's gallery.

    Graves Gallery

    Where: Sheffield (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 11am-4pm, Wed 1pm-6pm. Closed bank hols & Easter weekend.

    Description: Displays collections from the 16th-21st centuries, including works by Paul Cézanne, Damien Hirst and Bridget Riley.

    Hands on History Museum

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Open: Second and fourth Saturday of each month, 12noon-4pm.

    Description: Museum on the people and history of Hull. Also houses an Egyptian gallery with a 2,600-year-old mummy.

    Hull Maritime Museum

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4:30pm, Sun 11am-4pm. 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.

    Hull and East Riding Museum

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am- 4:30pm, Sun 11am-4pm. 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.

    Leeds Art Gallery

    Where: Leeds (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-3pm. Closed Mondays.

    Description: A range of 20th century British art, plus seasonal temporary exhibitions. Housing works from Henry Moore and Rodin to Francis Bacon and Jacob Kramer.

    Leeds City Museum

    Where: Leeds (view map)

    Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, 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.

    Millennium Gallery

    Where: Sheffield (view map)

    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.

    National Coal Mining Museum

    Where: Overton, West Yorkshire (view map)

    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, you even have the opportunity to travel down into one of Britain's oldest working mines.

    National Media Museum

    Where: Bradford (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-6pm.

    Description: All things related to television, film, photography, radio and the internet.

    National Railway Museum York

    Where: York (view map)

    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.


    Royal Armouries Museum (Leeds)

    Where: Leeds (view map)

    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.

    Streetlife Museum

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Open bank hols excl Good Fri.

    Description: Museum of transport, exploring two centuries of the history of transportation. Things to see include a 1940s high street and a tram.

    Tolson Museum

    Where: Huddersfield (view map)

    Open: Apr- Aug: Tue-Thu & bank hols 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 12noon-5pm. Sep-Mar: Sat & Sun 12noon-4pm, Tue-Thu 11am-4pm (Kirklees school hols only.)

    Description: Victorian mansion house with collections including local history, Roman history, archaeology, textiles, transport and birds.

    Weston Park Museum

    Where: Sheffield (view map)

    Open: Mon- Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Bank hols 10am-5pm.

    Description: Interactive history display from a traditional butcher's shop to Snowy the polar bear.

    Wilberforce House Museum

    Where: Hull (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Open bank holidays excluding Good Friday, 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Museum set in the birthplace of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce.

  • North West England

    Bolton Museum, Art Gallery & Aquarium

    Where: Bolton (view map)

    Open: Mon-Tue 9am- 5pm, Wed 9:30-5pm, Thu-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm. 

    Description: Exhibitions on archaeology, art, botany, Egyptology, entomology, geology, social history and zoology.

    Gallery Oldham

    Where: Oldham (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm.

    Description: Gallery Oldham has amassed 12,000 items since it began collecting in 1883.

    Greater Manchester Police Museum & Archives

    Where: Manchester (view map)

    Open: Tues 10.30am-3.30pm.

    Description: Museum exploring forensic science and forgery. Things to see include a range of police equipment and local uniforms.

    Grosvenor Museum

    Where: Chester (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 10.30am-5pm, Sun 1pm-4pm. Closed 24-28 Dec & 1 Jan.

    Description: Exploring the city and people of Chester, as well as changing exhibitions.

    Harris Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Preston (view map)

    Open: Mon 11am-5pm, Tue- Sat 10am- 5pm, Sun 11am-4pm. Closed bank hols.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Imperial War Museum North

    Where: Trafford Park, Manchester (view map)

    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.

    International Slavery Museum

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm

    Description: The history of the international slave trade, looking at slavery today and in the past.

    Lady Lever Art Gallery

    Where: Port Sunlight, Wirral (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm

    Description: Lots to see, including paintings, furniture, tapestries, sculpture and Chinese collections.

    Lancaster City Museum

    Where: Lancaster (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm and all bank hols.

    Description: Dedicated to Lancaster's diverse history, from the Roman era onwards. Also contains a range of artworks.

    Lancashire Infantry Museum

    Where: Preston (view map)

    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.

    Merseyside Maritime Museum

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm

    Description: Exploring the history of the port, including objects from wrecks, ships, boats, paintings and uniforms.

    Museum of the Manchester Regiment

    Where: Ashton-under-Lyne (view map)

    Open: Currently closed for refurbishment.

    Description: Describes the varied history of the Manchester Regiment soldiers, taking visitors from 1758 to 1958.

    Museum of Science & Industry

    Where: Castlefield, Manchester (view map)

    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.

    Reviews: 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."

    Nantwich Museum

    Where: Nantwich (view map)

    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.

    Open Eye Gallery

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm.

    Description: Focuses mainly on photography, featuring photos from the 1930s to the present day.

    People's History Museum

    Where: Manchester (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm, second Thu of every month, 10am-8pm. Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

    Description: Documents trade union and labour movement history.

    Portland Basin Museum

    Where: Ashton-under-Lyne (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10am-4pm, open bank holiday Mondays.

    Description: Visitors can experience the region's industrial, farming and mining past. Especially suitable for families.

    Richard Goodall Gallery

    Where: Manchester (view map)

    Open: Tue-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-5pm.

    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.

    Salford Museum & Art Gallery

    Where: Salford (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun9.30am-4.30pm. Closed bank hols unless stated.

    Description: Attractions include a huge Victorian gallery and a recreation of a typical Victorian 'northern' street.

    Sudley House

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    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.

    Tate Liverpool

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm.

    Description: One of four Tate museums, it shows pieces from the Tate collection, as well as special contemporary exhibitions.

    The Manchester Museum

    Where: Manchester (view map)

    Open: Mon-Wed 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-9pm, Fri-Sun 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.

    Victoria Gallery & Museum

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am- 5pm, closed bank hols.

    Description: Housed at Liverpool University, the museum holds items from 130 years of the city's history.

    Walker Art Gallery

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am - 5pm.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Watergate Street Gallery

    Where: Chester (view map)

    Open: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

    Description: Over 1,000 framed pictures on display, including abstract works, cityscapes, local art and Victorian watercolours.

    World Museum Liverpool

    Where: Liverpool (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm.

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

    Reviews: 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."

  • South East England

    Ashmolean Museum

    Where: Oxford (view map)

    Open: Daily 10am-5pm. Open 10am-8pm on last Fri of the month.

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Booth Museum of Natural History

    Where: Brighton (view map)

    Open: Mon-Wed & Fri-Sat 10am-12noon and 1.15pm-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm. 

    Description: Huge collection of Victorian taxidermy, especially birds and insects, along with displays of bones and fossils.

    Eastney Beam Engine House

    Where: Portsmouth (view map)

    Open: Open 11am-5pm on the following Sundays 2019:
    Feb 10, Mar 3, Apr 28, May 26, Jun 30, Jul 28, Sep 7-8 (weekend opening for Heritage Open Days), Oct 13, Nov 24. 

    Description: Contains a pair of Boulton Watt beam engines and pumps which have been restored to original condition.

    Guildhall Museum

    Where: Rochester, Kent (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Closes 4pm 24 & 31 Dec, and closed 25-27 Dec & 1 Jan.

    Description: This 17th century building showcases the history of the Medway Towns.

    Hastings Museum and Art Gallery

    Where: Hastings (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-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.

    Reviews: 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."

    Maidstone Museum

    Where: Maidstone, Kent (view map)

    Open: Apr-Oct Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-4pm (Nov-Mar, Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sunday closed).

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

    Reviews: 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."

    Milton Keynes Gallery

    Where: Milton Keynes (view map)

    Open: Thu-Fri 12noon-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm. Closed Mon-Wed, Sun and bank holidays.

    Description: Showing contemporary art with a variety of seasonal exhibitions.

    Oxford University Museum of Natural History

    Where: Oxford (view map)

    Open: Every day, 10am-5pm

    Description: Houses Oxford University's scientific collections of zoological, entomological and geological artefacts.

    Pitt Rivers Museum

    Where: Oxford (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun and bank hols 10am-4.30pm, Mon 12noon-4.30pm.

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

    Reviews: 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!"

    Portsmouth Museum

    Where: Portsmouth (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun and bank hols 10am-5.30pm (closes 5pm Oct-Mar).

    Description: Museum devoted to Portsmouth's people. Also has temporary galleries with a range of seasonal and varied shows.

    Portsmouth Natural History Museum

    Where: Southsea (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sun and bank hols 10am-5.30pm (closes 5pm Oct-Mar).

    Description: The museum tells the story of the wild things of the riverbank, marshes, woods and urban areas of Portsmouth.

    Reading Museum

    Where: Reading (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10am-4pm, and Mondays during Berkshire school half-terms. Closed Sundays, Mondays, bank hols & 25 Dec-1 Jan.

    Description: Collections on a range of subjects, including the local environment and history.

    Riverside Museum

    Where: Reading (view map)

    Open: Apr-Sept: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm, and Mondays during Berkshire school half-terms. Closed Sundays, Mondays and bank holidays, & throughout Oct-March.

    Description: Displays the story of Reading's two rivers - the Kennet and the Thames - through interactive exhibitions.

    Royal Armouries Museum Fort Nelson

    Where: Fareham (view map)

    Open: Every day 10am-5pm (10.30am-4pm Nov-Mar).

    Description: Features the Royal Armouries artillery, with more than 350 big guns and cannons.

    Southampton City Art Gallery

    : Southampton (view map)

    Open: Mon-Fri, 10am-3pm, Sat 10am-5pm.

    Description: Internationally-renowned for its impressive art collection, the gallery spans eight centuries of European art history.

    The Fast Museum

    Where: Farnborough (view map)

    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.

    The Lightbox Art Gallery & Museum

    Where: Woking, Surrey (view map)

    Open: Tue-Sat 10.30am-5pm (open until 8.30pm on Thu), Sun 11am - 4pm.

    Description: Two spacious galleries host a huge range of exhibitions of contemporary art from local and nationally-famous artists.

Have we missed any? If you know of any great free museums in your area that we've not included, we'd love to hear about them. Add any suggestions to our free museums thread.

You can also view all free UK museums and galleries on this larger map

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.

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.

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