If you find yourself craving a bit of culture during your stay in Lincoln, you’ll really enjoy the city’s great range of galleries and museums, with plenty for the whole family to explore. The Collective and The Usher Gallery are directly over the road from one another and give you both archaeological and artistic perspectives of Lincoln’s past, going all the way back to the Stone Age. There’s also WWI tanks, cars from the 1920s and the tallest war memorial in the UK for you to discover.
Culture in Lincoln
Let’s get the show on the road with the Lincolnshire Road Transport Museum which houses a stunning collection of more than 65 vintage cars that span more than 80 years of road transport history. Best of all, they often offer free rides in some of the working classics – you can have a great time rumbling around in a couple of Austins; a Seven from 1993 and an 18 that used to belong to the mayor. They even take out their SS Jaguar every now and then, although we’d be wary of scratching it, as it’s one of only three left in existence.
It’s not just the cars that steal the show, though. With a fascinating collection of buses, coaches, motorbikes and commercial vehicles – the oldest being a Ford TT Truck from 1926 – any kind of motorhead will get a kick out of a visit.
If you’re interested in the history of the county, then you must visit the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. It’s one of the most popular cultural attractions in the city, plus it’s absolutely free to go round. It gives you an insight into how Lincolnshire has evolved through the 19th and 20th centuries, including the birth of the tank during WWI – there’s even an authentic Mark IV model on display called ‘Daphne’.
The Collection is Lincoln’s award-winning archaeology museum that delves into the history of the county, beginning in the Stone Age and making its way through to the city we see today. But don’t think you have to have a particular interest in Lincoln to enjoy your visit; there are also exhibits from further afield, even including photography from the tomb of Tutankhamun. It’s all housed in a stunning building just off The Strait, entry’s free and there’s a lovely café if you want to pick up a hot drink or a snack. And while you’re there, be sure to tick off The Usher Gallery – which we’ll tell you more about later – as it’s directly over the road from The Collection.
We’ll round things off with a stunning historical landmark that commemorates a sombre subject. Directly over the road from our Lincoln (Canwick) hotel, we recommend you take the time to look around the International Bomber Command Centre. The spire is the UK’s tallest war memorial, piercing its way 31 metres into the sky. The view through it leads straight to Lincoln Cathedral – in homage to the view that let Bomber Command know that they were nearly home. Meanwhile, surrounding the spire, the memorial walls name every member of Bomber Command aircrew that lost their lives during WWII.
It’s a poignant place, which also has two peace gardens and the Chadwick visitor centre, where you can read more and remember Bomber Command – the unit that suffered more losses than any other during WWII. It’s the same unit that consisted of over a million men and women from 62 nations, every one of whom was a volunteer.
If you’re tempted by the local art scene, Harding House Gallery is a great place to start. You’ll find it in a delightful 16th-century building in the Cathedral Quarter on Steep Hill.
It began life in 1994 as the creative home for a collective of local artists and makers; somewhere they could showcase their work. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength, establishing itself as one of the most successful cooperatives in the country.
It’s well worth paying a visit. The Lower Gallery contains the original works of Harding House members, as well as contemporary pieces from across the country – you’ll find ceramics, glass, photography, textiles, jewellery, metal sculpture, calligraphy, prints, paintings and original greetings cards. Meanwhile, the Upper Gallery runs an ever-changing multidisciplinary programme of exhibitions.
The Usher Gallery is one of the region’s most important cultural hubs, over the road from The Collection in the Cultural Quarter of the city. Inside, you’ll find exquisite examples of fine art, jewellery and watches. The Usher Gallery’s name stems from the fact that it houses the collection of Lincoln jeweller James Ward Usher, who – when he died – bequeathed a considerable amount of his fortune to establish the gallery. Thanks to strong relationships with galleries nationwide, his collection is bolstered by loans from across the country. It means you can see paintings from English Romantics like J.M.W. Turner, local pieces from L.S. Lowry, the work of modern sculptors such as Henry Moore, ceramics from Grayson Perry and much, much more.