Last updated on May 1st, 2012 | Written By Laura Stimpson
My favourite museums in West Yorkshire
Outside of the National Media Museum in Bradford. Photo attribution: Albert Freeman
We really are spoilt for choice when looking to visit a good museum in West Yorkshire. The County boasts National museums, one of a kind collections and fun hands on learning for all the family. I could have written about our great museums for days, but here are my top picks for a guaranteed great afternoon out on one of our many rainy days.
Eureka is Britain’s first National Children’s museum, ask anyone who grew up in Yorkshire (and beyond) over the past 20 years and they will tell you a fond story about when they visited the museum. Situated right next to the train station in Halifax, you really can’t miss the bright colours of this welcoming, child focused museum. Aimed at children aged 0-11 the museum houses over 400 interactive exhibits to help them learn the way children learn best – through play and discovery.
There is something suitable for children of all ages in this amazing museum. Amongst the highlights of this small world of discovery is a mini town including a bank, Town Square, shop and garage for youngsters to explore all aspects of town living and working. In the bank, test out the cash machine where you’ll be issued with Eureka bank notes, put on your overalls and fix a car in the garage, and scan some groceries in the shop.
Learn how the human body works in the Me and My Body gallery and learn all about the science of sound in SoundSpace. Eureka is a truly unique day out that your children will never forget.
National Coal Mining Museum
The National Coal Mining Museum is without doubt my favourite museum in West Yorkshire, a must visit attraction for all, young or old, tourist or local. I visited this museum for the first time around 6 years ago and it’s one I never tire of taking family and friends to again and again! The museum is free to visit and you’ll get taken down the mine by a real miner.
Find out exactly what it was like to work in a Victorian mine, as well as about modern mining techniques. Once you’ve been down the mine, go and explore the museum’s collections of mining regalia. The collection boasts more than 32,000 objects, you’ll get a real sense of what it was like to work down the mine, the machinery used and the social lives of mining communities.
My favourite part is the social history collection where you learn about the personal lives of the miners and the strong traditions of the mining community, including Brass Bands.
National Media Museum
In 2009 the National Media Museum was the 5th most visited museum in England outside London. The natural home for the museum is Bradford – the UNESCO City of Film, and it’s certainly an asset Bradford should be proud of. The aim of the museum is to be the best in the world for inspiring people to learn about, engage with and create media.
Being home to BBC Yorkshire, the UK’s first IMAX theatre and housing the World’s first gallery (life online) dedicated to exploring the social, technological and cultural impact of the internet, the museum is putting its money where its mouth is.
Set over 8 floors the museum boasts a contrasting collection of traditional exhibitions of photographs and technology to interactive galleries.
The ‘Magic Factory’ allows you to explore for yourself the technology behind filming, including experimenting with colour and light, magic mirrors and shadows. Get a real insight in to the history of television in the ‘Experience TV’ section, you can even star in your own TV show. It’s here where you can see what it’s like to work behind the scenes too, by watching real TV researchers working behind the scenes of the BBC studios.
The Thackray Museum is a great place to visit. It’s a wonderful place to take the kids to help them to really understand how the human body works in a practical, visual way, and it interesting for anyone interested in the history of medicine, illnesses or just fascinated by how amazing the human body is. Housed in an old part of St James Hospital, Leeds it really is a great location for a museum of this type.
Explore what life was like in 1842 in a mock up street, and how the poor conditions led to a number of diseases. Find out how far medical discovery has developed over the years, the scientists journey to understanding how germs work, inventing vaccines and drugs.
If you’ve ever wondered what surgery was like in the 1800’s here’s your chance. Take a look into the operating theatre where you can see a young girl having her leg amputated. If this leaves you with a thirst for more there are chances to learn more about surgery in Victorian England – you’ll be thankful you weren’t born over a century early.
One of the strangest experiences is finding out what it’s like to have a baby. Again you get the chance to look at the medical advances when it comes to childbirth, but you can also try on a pregnancy suit or ‘empathy belly’, to feel just what it’s like to be pregnant. A particularly interesting feeling for male visitors.
With all this on offer in West Yorkshire, you’ll find yourself praying for the next rainy day!
Map of Yorkshire
Browse the map and click on the pins to find the location of the places featured in this guide.