03 Oct Museums in Manchester

With a history full of industrial and technological breakthroughs as well as a modern focus on communication, media and the arts, Manchester has some amazing museums and galleries. Browse the full list of museums, choose in between free and family friendly attractions, or simply click the name of the museum that piques your interest to be directed to more detailed information. Most of them are even free to visit, so why not pop in?

List of Museums in Manchester

— Victorian era, medieval architecture
— Police equipment and archives
— war, technology, science and society
— arts, fashion, politics, society
— Jewish culture and ethnic diversity
— natural history, archaeology, anthropology
— neo-gothic architecture
— science, technology, steam machines and industry
— public transport, horse buses, buses, trams
— football
— politics, activism, democracy
— literature, books
— architecture, theatre, trading
— literature, Anthony Burgess’ work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are attractions on our list that are not real or official museums, but their history makes them a really interesting stop when visiting Manchester.

Free Museums in Manchester

 

There is plenty to do in Manchester that won’t cost you a penny! For a full list of things to do in the city for free, read our article 33 Free Things to do in Manchester.

Best Museum for Kids

 

1. Clayton Hall Living History Museum

Dress up as a Victorian, visit several rooms, have lunch in the café, or take part in a guided tour. A really fun way to learn about Victorian and Mancunian history. Highly recommended for children, book, music and history lovers.

The later part of this 12th-century manor house is dressed like a traditional Victorian home where you can step through time and discover what it would feel like to live here in the 1800’s.  If you love books and music, the Hall has connections to Lord Byron, the poet, and the Chetham brothers, who founded the Chetham’s School of Music and its Library in Manchester. It’s also the only moated medieval site in the city. Please bear in mind Clayton Hall is not open every day, so check for open days before visiting or contact the Hall for more details.

Image credit: Clayton Hall Living History Museum

Image credit: Clayton Hall Living History Museum

Highlights include:

  • Live like a Victorian for the day
  • Scheduled guided tours

Address: Clayton Hall Living History Museum, Clayton Park, Ashton New Road, Clayton, Manchester M11 4RU
Admission: FREE on open days, charges might apply to particular activities and donations are welcomed as they are a charity
Opening Times: Please check diary for open days
More information: http://www.claytonhall.org/

2. Greater Manchester Police Museum

Put simply, you won’t believe what police officers have used as equipment over the years! Covering everything from old police cars to old photographs of the city, the Greater Manchester Police Museum will surely spark your imagination. You can also book a private tour for a group as small as five people completely free!

Credit: GMP Museum and Archives

Image credit: GMP Museum and Archives

Highlights include:

  • Antique police equipment
  • Knowledgeable staff and private tours
  • Regular events

Address: 57A Newton Street, Manchester M1 1ET
Admission: FREE – donations gratefully received but not required
Opening Times: Tuesdays 10:30am – 3:30pm (last admission 3pm), private tours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
More information: http://www.gmpmuseum.co.uk/

3. Imperial War Museum (IWM North)

From personal survivor accounts to common conflict themes, the Imperial War Museums explores the human aspect of war and the effect it has on everyday life before, during and after.

Featuring one-off exhibitions as well as a main showcase and connected to other similar museums around the UK, the IWM shines and light on the conflicts Britain and the Commonwealth have been involved in since World War I. Focusing on the many changes war has brought to the UK, from the role of women in society to technology and science advances.

Imperial War Museum Manchester

Imperial War Museum Manchester

Highlights include:

  • Personal accounts and focus on people’s experience of war
  • The changing profile of Britain in the face of war

Address: IWM North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ
Admission: FREE
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
More information: http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-north

4. Manchester Art Gallery

While not a museum per se, Manchester Art Gallery is home to exhibitions focusing on the development of the arts over time and eras of history. If you are a fashion lover, this should definitely be one of your sightseeing stops, as they usually host at least one exhibition connected to fashion.

Highlights include:

  • Fashion exhibitions
  • Vogue 100: A Century of Style – My Favourite Decade Instagram Exhibition

Address: Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
Admission: FREE, charges might apply to particular exhibitions
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm (Thursdays until 9pm)
More information: http://manchesterartgallery.org/

5. Manchester Jewish Museum

Daily tours guide you through the lives of Jewish Mancunians in 1912. Guest exhibitions focus not only on the Jewish community but also the wealth of ethnic diversity in industrial Manchester.

The only Jewish Museum outside of London, it allows you to explore the life, culture and contributions of the Jewish community to the city. A fascinating dip into a different culture and traditions.

Manchester Jewish_museum_2

Image credit: Richerman [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Highlights include:

  • Free guided tours – times vary, please contact the museum for more information
  • Focus on Jewish culture, but also ethnic diversity in Manchester

Address: Manchester Jewish Museum, 190 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester M8 8LW
Admission: Adults – £4.50, Concessions – £3.50
Opening Times: Sunday to Thursday 10am – 4pm, Friday 10am – 1pm
More information: http://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/

6. Manchester Museum

Focusing on natural history, anthropology and archaeology, the Manchester Museum is the city’s smaller version of London’s Natural History Museum.

Run by The University of Manchester, Manchester Museum has 15 galleries covering everything from rocks and minerals to dinosaurs and ancient history. It is even home to live reptiles! A fantastic museum for kids or anyone interested in animals and ancient history.

Image credit: DrPhoenix (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: DrPhoenix (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Highlights include:

  • Rocks & minerals
  • Animals & dinosaurs
  • Live vivarium
  • Meteorites

Address: Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL
Admission: FREE
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
More information: http://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/

7. Manchester Town Hall

While the building is not officially a museum, just walking inside it will give you a glimpse of another era – a time when Manchester was at the very centre of the Industrial Revolution and the cotton industry.

Inspired by Neo-Gothic Cathedrals and purpose built to making the most of the sometimes fleeting Northern sun, the Manchester Town Hall is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Pause to take in the paintings on the walls, the stained glass windows and the mosaics on the floor. They all tell the history of this magnificent building and city. Please note that being able to visit the Great Hall and meeting rooms will depend if they are hosting an event or not. The Sculpture Hall, however, is always open.

manchester Town HallResize

Highlights include:

  • Sculpture Hall – with its amazing vaulted ceiling
  • Entrance to Great Hall – with the honeybee floor mosaic and cotton flower skylight
  • The Great Hall – home to the famous Manchester Murals, painted by Ford Madox Brown and depicting important parts of Manchester’s history with a little humour

Address: Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester M60 2LA
Admission: FREE on your own or £8 for a guided tour.
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 4pm
More information: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/townhall/
Guided Tours: http://www.manchesterguidedtours.com/

8. Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)

Focusing on the evolution of technology, industry and science, the MSI covers a fairly modern subject in a very interactive way. Families with older children might even recognise some of the topics from their school curriculum. Highly recommended for kids, adults interested in technology, or any visitor fond of a more interactive attraction.

Credit: Museum of Science and Industry

Image credit: Museum of Science and Industry

Highlights include:

  • John Dalton’s models of atomic theory – something kids will recognise from school
  • parts of the World’s first computer
  • one of the world’s largest collections of working steam mill engines
  • and daily demonstrations from spinning to weaving on original machines

Address: Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP
Admission: FREE, charges might apply to some activities
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
More information: http://msimanchester.org.uk/

9. Museum of Transport Greater Manchester

From horse buses to trams, if you are into vintage cars, double-decker buses and trains, this one is for you!

Covering the whole history of public road transport in Greater Manchester from its beginning in 1824 until now, the Museum of Transport has a collection of images, films and vehicle displays to please any automotive lover. Definitely a museum the whole family would enjoy. You can even check the event calendar and go for a ride!

Image credit: Neil Turner [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Neil Turner [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Highlights include:

  • Double-decker collection
  • Vehicle collection
  • Object collection
  • Free for children under 16

Address: Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, Boyle Street, Cheetham, Manchester M8 8UW
Admission: Adults £4, Under 16s FREE, Concessions £2
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
More information: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/

10. National Football Museum

The National Football Museum is any football lover’s dream. It not only includes all the expected exhibits but also boasts interactive attractions to keep the whole family entertained, even the partner that is not that much of a fan!
To top it off, the museum is located inside one of Manchester’s newest and most iconic buildings – The Urbis. Interactive, passionate and full of history, just like the beautiful game itself.

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Image credit: National Football Museum

Highlights include:

  • Hall of fame
  • Interactive Football Plus+ games
  • Kit and equipment collection
  • Learning and discovery zones

Address: National Football Museum, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester M4 3BG
Admission: FREE, charges might apply to some activities
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
More information: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/

11. People’s History Museum

The People’s History Museum follows the ideas that prompted the fight for democracy in the UK across the ages. It aims to showcase the power of the people as well as encourage the fight for worthy ideas. A great museum for anyone wanting to learn more about the political arena and activism history in the UK.

Credit: People's History Museum, Headland Design Assosiates

Image credit: People’s History Museum, Headland Design Assosiates

Highlights include:

  • Zombie Capitalism exhibition
  • Defenders of Human Freedom exhibition
  • Children friendly zones and activities

Address: People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER
Admission: FREE
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
More information: http://www.phm.org.uk/

12. Portico Library

If you are a book lover, visiting Portico Library is a must. Portico was opened as a newsroom and library in 1806. Today, it holds an extensive collection of 19th-century books in its small but perfectly formed and beautifully domed library.

Unfortunately, as the books are quite old, only researchers and members of the library have access to them, but as a visitor, you can see the old bookshelves and bask in the beauty of this small library. Browse their free art exhibitions, have lunch and remember a time when only intellectuals and people of status had access to such beautiful reading rooms. Please note you have to book lunch in advance.

Image credit: Portico Library

Image credit: Portico Library

Highlights include:

  • Lunch underneath the dome
  • Small library with very unique books

Address: Portico Library, 57 Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3FF
Admission: FREE (not including lunch)
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
More information: http://www.phm.org.uk/

13. Royal Exchange Theatre

This is truly an amazing building and its history also tells the history of Manchester. Not officially a museum, The Royal Exchange is definitely worth exploring. You only need to step into the great entrance hall to understand why you should pop in.

Originally one of the world’s centre for cotton trading, like a giant stock exchange, you can still see the original trading board with the day’s figures as you look up. Over the years, the Great Hall has survived being directly bombed in World War II, being abandoned for years, then refurbished as a theatre only to be damaged by a terrorist bombing later in the 70’s. Despite all this, it stands today magnificent as one of the country’s largest in-the-round theatre spaces. Walk in, book tickets or just have a coffee and bask in the beauty of this stunning piece of architecture.

Image credit: University of Salford Press Office [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: University of Salford Press Office [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Highlights include:

  • An array of plays to watch
  • Great Hall complete with old global cotton trading board – during the day the stained glass windows come to life and during the night it is lit up to impress

Address: Royal Exchange Theatre, St Anne’s Square, Manchester M2 7DH
Admission: FREE (not including play tickets or coffee)
Opening Times: Box Office – Monday to Saturday 10am – 6.15pm, Sundays 11am – 5pm
More information: https://www.royalexchange.co.uk/our-history

14. The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Are you a fan of dystopian fiction, A Clockwork Orange or Anthony Burgess’ work? Then this one is for you. Visit the exhibit area or book an appointment to have access to exclusive rare books, manuscripts, correspondence and photographs relating to the life and work of this famously controversial author.

Highlights include:

  • Access to rare books and manuscripts relating to Anthony Burgess
  • Reading room available by appointment only

Address: International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
Admission: FREE, charges might apply to particular events
Opening Times: exhibition area – Monday to Friday 10am – 2pm
More information: http://www.anthonyburgess.org/

 

Paula de Santana

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