From industrial history to fine art, you’ll find it all plus much more in Leeds’ museums and galleries. Take a look at our guide and see what you’ll discover on your visit.
Birthplace of Lord Darnley, notorious husband of Mary Queen of Scots, Temple Newsam House is a Tudor-Jacobean mansion with lots of history. Explore its grand rooms and stunning collections or head out into its beautiful gardens and working farm. In the summer months the grounds are transformed to host a number of festivals, including Cocoon in The Park and Let’s Rock.
Home to the national collection, the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds has everything from swords and scabbards to helmets and half amour. Across its themed galleries - covering war, tournaments, hunting, and self defence - you’ll find a collection of over 8,500 objects from across the world. Check out the regular events and step back in time with some Medieval jousting and Roman formation drills.
Dig deep and discover a whole lot of history at the National Coal Mining Museum. Descend 140 metres underground into one of the world’s oldest working mines. Put your hard hat on and follow your former-miner guide down the tunnels to discover how coal mining has changed throughout the centuries - from pit ponies to modern day machinery.
Otley is a picture postcard market town on the edge of the River Wharfe with a story to tell. From prehistoric stone tools and artefacts to social history records and urban development archives, you’ll find out how this town grew from a small settlement to what you see today in this local museum. If you’d like to see the archives on your visit, make sure you email or call in advance.
Established in 1819, Leeds City Museum is housed in the former Mechanics' Institute in the centre of the city. Exhibiting everything from Roman mosaics and Greek tombs to a 3000-year-old mummy and a Victorian stuffed tiger, you’ll find something interesting around every corner in this museum. If you’re visiting with children during the holidays, there’s a range of free clubs and activities to keep the little ones busy.
Go on a journey from Victorian medicine to present-day surgery at the Thackray Medical Museum. Explore the collections, attend a lecture or keep the kids busy with eye dissections and disease detective work – there’s plenty for the whole family in this museum. Thought to be the most haunted building in Leeds, keen ghost hunters should check out the museum’s paranormal investigations.
Travel back in time with a trip to Abbey House Museum. Located in the gatehouse of the ruined Kirkstall Abbey, this museum explores Leeds’ past and the history of childhood. Wander its ground floor and discover what life was really like in a beautifully recreated Victorian street, complete with a range of shops. Head upstairs to explore toys from years gone by in the Childhood Gallery.
One of the largest sculpture galleries in Europe, the Henry Moore Institute was set up in the city where the famous sculptor learned his art as a student. As well as being home to a number of pieces by Moore, the Institute exhibits historical and contemporary sculpture from across the world, including classics and modern masterpieces. With exhibitions changing frequently, this small gallery always has plenty to see.
Opening in 2012, the White Cloth Gallery aims to provide a space for established and emerging artists to showcase their work. Over its four rooms you’ll find some of the nation’s most exciting photography on display.
Offering workshops, screenings and book signings, as well as a café-bar, this gallery is a great place to see some cutting-edge art or grab a bite to eat.
Explore the manufacturing and engineering history of the city at the Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. Wander around a Victorian milling room, explore early printing presses or see some 19th century locomotives, there’s lots to keep the whole family busy at this museum. Want to take a break, head to the working 1920’s cinema and sit back to watch some short films.
With paintings and sculpture by some of the greatest 20th century British artists, this gallery is a must-see for art lovers. Discover works by everyone from Percy Wyndham Lewis to Henry Moore, explore the Craft Centre and Design Gallery or attend a workshop with a local artist; you’ll find plenty to inspire you. Housed in a Victorian building, the gallery will be shut for repairs until October 2017.
Supporting local arts and culture in Leeds but also bringing established artists to the city, there’s always lots to see at the Gallery. Since opening in 2011, it has exhibited everything from artists and illustrators to photographers and designers working in all types of media. After you’ve checked out the exhibits, take a break and grab a bite to eat in the gallery’s café.
From Leeds’ city centre to its leafy suburbs and beautiful surrounding countryside, you'll find lots of great hotels in Leeds. If you need to be central, try the First Direct Arena Hotel and Trinity Leeds Hotel, or Leeds City West for Elland Road. For those jetting in, check out Leeds/Bradford Airport hotel.