A very nice, traditional museum. The Museum was founded by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society to accommodate their geological and archaeological collections, and was originally housed in Ousegate, York, until the site became too small. In 1828 the society received by royal grant, ten acres (0.040 km²) of land formerly belonging to St Mary’s Abbey for the purposes of building a new museum. The main building of the museum is called the Yorkshire Museum; it was designed by William Wilkins in a Greek Revival style and is a Grade I listed building. It was officially opened in February 1830, which makes it one of the longest established museums in England. A condition of the royal grant was that the land surrounding the museum building should be a botanic gardens and one was created in the 1830s. The botanic gardens are now known as the Museum Gardens. On 26 September 1831 the inaugural meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was held at the Yorkshire Museum. The Tempest Anderson Hall was built in 1912 as an annex to the museum, and is an early example of a reinforced concrete building. It is used as a conference venue and lecture theatre.
As of January 2016 the museum has the following permanent exhibits: "Roman York – Meet the People of the Empire", "Capital of the North" (Anglian, Viking and Medieval York), and "Extinct: A way of life" a "fun, family-oriented gallery" featuring fossils, skeletons and animal specimens. There are also temporary exhibitions and a historic library and learning space. The biology collection contains 200,000 specimens, including both fauna and flora, with the majority of the collection made up of insects. There are two stuffed specimens of the extinct great auk, an almost complete skeleton of an extinct moa and a large collection of specimens from the Yorkshire region including the remains of elephants, cave bears and hyena from Kirkdale Cave dated to the Quaternary period, around 125,000 years ago. The geology collection contains over 112,500 specimens of rocks, minerals and fossils. Fossils make up the majority of the collection numbering over 100,000 samples, and include important specimens from the Carboniferous, Mesozoic and Tertiary periods. The astronomy collection is mainly kept in the Observatory in Museum Gardens with some telescopes kept at the Castle Museum in York. The archaeology collection has close to a million objects that date from around 500,000 BC to the 20th century. Most of the objects from the Roman, Anglo Scandinavian and Medieval periods are from the York and Yorkshire area. Following the 2010 refit of the Museum, the first gallery displays parts of the Roman collection focusing on objects from Eboracum (Roman York). A statue of the Roman God Mars is prominently displayed, and there is an interactive display describing the lives of some of the Romans whose remain have been found in York. The final record of the famous lost Roman legion, the ninth legion is on display as part of the Roman gallery. The stone inscription, which has been dated to Trajan's twelfth year as emperor, between 10 December 107 and 9 December 108, commemorates the legion's rebuilding in stone of the south-eastern wall of Eboracum's legionary fortress.
Of particular note are : The Coppergate Helmet, discovered in York in 1982. The Ormside Bowl, found in Cumbria; an intricate example of work by an Anglian silversmith. The Middleham Jewel, discovered in 1992 by Ted Seaton using a metal detector at Middleham, North Yorkshire. The jewel is a gold, diamond-shaped pendant with a blue sapphire at the top. The pendant, dating from c. 1460, is engraved with a picture of the Christian Trinity on the front, and one of the Nativity of Jesus on the back. The Cawood sword. The Cawood sword is a medieval sword discovered in the River Ouse near Cawood in North Yorkshire in the late 19th century. The blade is of Oakeshott type XII and has inscriptions on both sides. It most likely dates to the early 12th century. The Medieval Shrine of Saint William of York. The Bedale Hoard. The Bedale Hoard is a hoard of forty-eight silver and gold items dating from the late 9th to early 10th century AD and includes necklaces, arm-bands, a sword pommel, hacksilver and ingots. Set in the stunning surroundings of the medieval ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, York Museum Gardens is a great space to meet friends and family and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that the gardens have to offer. The Gardens are open daily and free to all visitors.
There is a ramp at the front of the building and the main entrance area is fully accessible. The museum is on three floors and there is a lift. The lower ground and ground floor are fully accessible to wheelchair users. The first floor is mainly accessible, but the reading room and historic library are not accessible to wheelchairs. Please contact them if you wish to access these facilities and they will do their best to help you. Please note that at busy times there may be a delay in using the lift, as only one wheelchair user is allowed on the first floor at one time due to fire regulations. There are handrails on the stairs and there is seating available around the museum. Toilet facilities are found on the lower ground floor including a disabled toilet. They welcome Guide Dogs, no other animals are allowed entry to the museum.
Location : Museum Gardens, York YO1 7FR
Transport: York (National Rail) 14 minutes. Bus routes : 6, 30 and 40 stop outside.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 17:00. Gardens from 07:30 to 18:00 (Winter) or 20:00 (Summer)
Tickets : Adults £6.81; Children Free.
Tel: 01904 687687