Cardiff | National Museum Cardiff

National Museum Cardiff

Located in the heart of Cardiff’s elegant Edwardian civic centre, National Museum Cardiff houses Wales’ national art, natural history and geology collections, as well as having lots of temporary and touring exhibitions popping up throughout the year. Whether you want to take in some of the finest Impressionist paintings in Europe or step back in time and surround yourself with gigantic dinosaurs, there’s plenty to catch your eye in this museum. From classic masterpieces to contemporary gems, head into the art galleries to see over five hundred years’ worth of paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world. Take a trip into the national history galleries to discover the home of animals, birds and insects from all over the Welsh and global landscape. Journey through space and time in the Evolution of Wales gallery to find out more about how millions of years ago the Big Bang formed the planet. Want a to learn more about what you’ll find in the National Museum? Get the highlights with our guide to one of Cardiff’s top cultural attractions. And remember, there’s a Premier Inn nearby which will get your day off to a great start, ready to make all kinds of discoveries at the museum.

National Museum, Cardiff
National Museum, Cardiff

What’s on

With an array of artistic, historical and geological wonders to behold, as well plenty of special exhibitions and touring collections ready to grab your interest, a visit to the National Museum Cardiff will keep you busy for hours. Here are our top picks of the things you can discover on your visit.

Art collection – From the finest Impressionist paintings to the largest space for contemporary art in Wales, at the National Museum you find everyone from Renoir to Rodin, as well as modern artists Graham Sutherland and Richard Wilson.

Natural history galleries – Whether it’s the world’s largest Leatherback Turtle or a huge Humpback Whale skeleton, you’ll discover the diverse natural history of Wales on your trip from the seashore to mountain top in the national history galleries.

Evolution of Wales gallery – Take a journey through space and time in the Evolution of Wales gallery where you’ll find out about the Big Bang 4600 million years ago, discover how our modern landscape was shaped and come face to face with dinosaur skeletons and woolly mammoths.

Temporary exhibitions – The National Museum Cardiff has a regularly changing roster of exciting exhibitions which have either toured the country or been designed especially for the museum. Recent highlights have included Agatha Christie: A life in photographs and Dinosaur Babies, which included embryos, eggs and a huge 2.5 metre model dinosaur nest!

Near the National Museum Cardiff

Situated in Cardiff’s elegant civic centre, there’s lots to see and do right on the doorstep of the National Museum Cardiff. Wander through Cathays Park and you can take in the picture postcard tree lined avenues, sit amongst the flower beds in Alexandra Gardens and look up at the grand Edwardian architecture, which includes the City Hall, Temple of Peace and a number of buildings which form part of the Cardiff University.
Built in 1906, Cardiff’s City Hall is at the heart of the centre with its dramatic entrance. Head inside and you’ll find a magnificent Marble Hall, decorative interiors and an impressive collection of art, as well as regular exhibitions and events.

Facilities

With well over one million people passing through its doors each year, the National Museum Cardiff doesn’t just have lots of galleries and exhibitions ready for its visitors. Read about the facilities on offer and other important information here.

If you’re looking for a bargain day out, you’ve come to the right place. Although some events and exhibitions may have a separate charge, entry to the museum is free. Open Tuesday to Sunday, and most Bank Holiday Mondays, from 10am to 5pm, you’ll find most galleries in the museum will close at 4:45pm. If you’re not travelling light, don’t worry about struggling with bags. The museum has lockers which are big enough for all your things. Lockers need a £1 coin, but this is refundable at the end of your visit. If you’re visiting with little ones you can also leave your buggy in the buggy park. Visiting with a large group? It’s recommended that you pre-book to help the museum plan for your visit. If you have any questions, you can contact the centre on 0300 111 2 333.

The National Museum Cardiff prides itself on ensuring that all visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the artistic, historical and geological gems on display. For those with physical mobility issues there are designated parking bays for Blue Badge holders, wheelchair access to all galleries, and wheelchairs and mobile seating sticks are available on loan from the Information Desk. For those with hearing impairment, an Induction Loop is provided in most of the galleries and exhibits usually have a good standard of written material to support the collections. For those with visual impairment, assistance dogs are allowed on site, there is a touch trail available in the Natural History galleries and guided audio description tours are available.

Getting there

The National Museum Cardiff can be found right in the centre of Cardiff and is easy to get to by car or public transport.

City driving

Car

The National’s visitor car park is situated behind the museum, just off Museum Avenue. You can purchase an exit token from the Museum Shop for £6.50. If  the car park is full, you’ll find plenty of car parking options nearby in the city centre.

Getting around by bus

Bus

If you’re heading to the museum from the city’s bus station, located next to Cardiff Central train station, you can hop on the 53 or 85 buses.
If you’re coming from Cardiff Bay take the Bay Car bus number 6.

Getting around by train

Train

The Museum is around a 10-minute walk from both of Cardiff’s main stations. If you’re taking the Main South Wales to London line hop off at Cardiff Central station. If you’re coming from the Valleys then Cardiff Queen Street station is your station.

Top tip

If you want to find out more about the museum’s best loved exhibits, why not let the experts tell you more? Free tours of the National Museum’s top art and science discoveries are run every day with enthusiastic volunteer guides. The Highlights of Art guided tour starts at 12.30pm, while the Highlights of Science tour begins at 1.30pm. These tours can get busy so be sure to book a place at the Information Desk when you first arrive at the museum.

Eating and drinking

Located right in the heart of the city, you’ll find plenty of food and drink options near the National Museum Cardiff.

Eating

Don’t want to leave the National Museum Cardiff for lunch? You’ll find lots of delicious choices inside the museum. The Coffee Shop in the Main Hall is a great spot to enjoy home-made cakes and sandwiches as you take in the grandeur of the building.
For something more substantial head to Oriel Restaurant, on the lower ground floor of the museum. Serving hot and cold lunches, you’ll find a range of sandwiches and baguettes and home-made soup, as well as cakes and sweet treats.
Want to explore the surrounding eateries? Try gourmet dining in a grand gothic setting at Park House. Known for making perfect food and wine pairing, be sure to check out the wine recommendations.

Drinking the best cocktails

Drinking

If you need to take a break from all that art or drink to the dinosaurs you’ve seen, you’ll find lots of bars and pubs nearby.
In the mood for cocktails? Go down into Park House’s basement and you’ll find the Vanilla Rooms. The award-winning mixologists of this stylish cocktail bar have over 100 different cocktails in their repertoire.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed, casual atmosphere, take a trip to The Three Rivers for a good drink selection and some tasty food, as well as big screen sport and a pool table. If your taste is more for modern pub where they pour the perfect pint and have a great selection of ales, head over to the Royal George.