12 of the UK’s Top Museums and Galleries Outside of London

May 15, 2018

If there is one thing the UK does well, it’s museums. The nation’s collections of artefacts and artworks are amongst the most visited on the planet. Though the names of the British Museum and National Gallery draw tourists from around the world, the capital isn’t the only place to explore. 

These are our top UK museums and galleries outside of London:

SS Great Britain, Bristol

In 1843, the SS Great Britain was the largest vessel on the ocean. Designed by the legendary Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the mighty steamship charted a course across the Atlantic, bound for New York from the ports of Bristol, carrying 360 passengers to the New World.

Years later, Great Britain carried immigrants as far as Australia and held coal in the Falklands Islands off the coast of Argentina. In 1970, the iconic vessel returned to British shores and is now one of nation’s most celebrated museums, providing a window into life as a sailor over the course of the past centuries.

Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol BS1 6TY (ssgreatbritain)

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

Occupying the grounds of the 18th century Bretton Hall, the expansive acres of Yorkshire Sculpture Park represent one of the largest gallery spaces in the UK.

The wonderful lakeside Yorkshire scenery is enough to attract anyone, never mind the collection of impressive outdoor works from leading artists from across the globe.

West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG (ysp)

Tate Liverpool, Liverpool

Another located in the renovated Albert Docks area, Tate Liverpool represents the northern branch of the UK’s Tate gallery group.

Opened in 1988, the converted warehouse exhibits a range of British art from 1500 onwards, from classical portraits to the world of 20th century pop art.

Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 4BB (tateliverpool)

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Imperial War Museum North, Manchester

The Northern sister to London’s Imperial War Museum, the Manchester venue is just as engrossing, and sobering as it’s southern equivalent. Built on the ruins of the docklands industrial area, which was bombed heavily itself during the Blitz.

A stunning collection, ranging from World War memorabilia to sections of the World Trade Center wreckage can be found in one of the best collections to be found in any museums in Manchester.

Trafford Wharf Road, Stretford, Manchester, M17 1TZ (iwm)

Royal Armouries, Leeds

No museum list is going to be complete without LeedsRoyal Armouries. The internationally famous docklands museum is one of the most popular attractions in the North of England.

There are over 8500 weapons of war on show, with artefacts from almost every era of human history. Highlights include the personal armour of King Henry VIII and one of the world’s only surviving war elephant dress’.

If you fancy it, the Museum hosts two world-renowned jousting competitions a year, with competitors from all over flocking to Leeds to face each other in the tourney field.

Armouries Dr, Leeds LS10 1LT (royalarmouries)

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Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow

Glasgow’s biggest and best, the Kelvingrove has an almighty collection ranging from dinosaur bones and medieval weaponry to Spitfires and Salvador Dali.

First opened in 1901, Kelvingrove has grown into one of the most visited free attractions in the UK, sporting over 8000 artefacts. An interactive wander through human history, and a stellar one at that.

Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG (kelvingrove)

The Hepworth, Wakefield

Wakefield is something of a hotbed for UK art galleries. Alongside the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield is also home to the award-winning Hepworth gallery.

First opened in 2011 on the banks of the River Calder, the stunning architecture is an impressive piece of art as is, with the interior gallery space housing a wide collection of pieces from Dame Barbara Hepworth herself, alongside the likes of Henry Moore, Jacob Epstein and David Hockney.

In 2017, The Hepworth was awarded the Art Fund “UK Museum of the Year”.

Gallery Walk, Wakefield WF1 5AW (thehepworth)

Beamish Open Air Museum, County Durham

The world famous Beamish takes visitors on a journey through the Britain of yesteryear. A living museum, this open-air site depicts life in northern Britain from 1820 to 1940.

Streets are built to resemble life in a northern town, with actors milling about to set the scene. A wonderful way to appreciate British history from the viewpoint of those that history doesn’t often mention.

Regional Resource Centre, Beamish DH9 0RG (beamish

Manchester Museum, Manchester

Manchester Museum has a little something for everyone. From Egyptian mummies and dinosaurs, to live reptiles and the world’s oldest horse. With an expansive collection of oddities and some of history’s most important specimens, Manchester Museum really holds up amongst the nation’s best.

The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL (museum.manchester)

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National Football Museum, Manchester

Manchester is renowned for its football, the giants of Manchester City and Manchester United call the city home. Naturally then, so too does the National Football Museum.

Some of the footballing world’s most important artefacts are here. You’ll find shirts for Diego Maradona and Pele, and the replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy won by England in 1966.

Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd Street, Manchester, M4 3BG (nationalfootballmuseum)

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Explore the fascinating history of Scotland and more at Edinburgh‘s National Museum. Come face to face with a fearsome Tyrannosaur, and explore the far-reaches of the universe at one of Scotland’s finest odes to history.

Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF (nms)

Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham

Sat in the historic Lace Market area of Nottingham, this modern arts centre is built upon a site that once housed cave dwellings and a Saxon fort. These days, Nottingham Contemporary is an art exhibition space and an ode to the city’s lace industry heritage.

 Weekday Cross, Nottingham NG1 2GB (nottinghamcontemporary)

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