Leeds City Museum
Boasting six exhibition spaces spread over four floors, Leeds City Museum offers a fascinating and educational day out for all ages. The free entry venue is listed as one of the leading ‘things to do’ in Leeds on TripAdvisor and explores local, national and international history and culture via interactive displays and awe-inspiring artefacts.
Without a doubt, Leeds City Museum’s key attraction is the ‘Leeds Tiger’. When curators considered removing it, local press and public intervened…and the much adored stuffed animal remains in the museum’s collection to this day. The museum acquired the tiger skin rug during the 19th century and combined it with other skins, before filling it with straw. There are many stories behind the reason for the animal being killed in India; from lingering nearby a village to killing 40 people!
Other artefacts vary between army uniforms and ornate pottery, to the full skeleton of the extinct Heavy-Footed Moa; a large bird that exclusively inhabited the South Island. A display of religious items highlight diversity in the city, while four 18th century Italian busts that were once owned by Yorkshire-based poet Dorothy Una Ratcliffe await to be admired. The likes of Ammonites, a Roman mosaic found in Aldborough, north Yorkshire and the 3,000-year-old ‘Leeds Mummy’ are also on show.
Alongside vast glass cabinets and pictures lining white walls, the museum also offers an interactive element. Little ones can play with a wooden cup and ball or sit at an old-fashioned school desk, complete with opening top and ink well. A selection of wigs and a mirror sit below grand portraits, while projections inform visitors about topics including what it’s like to live in Leeds today. Events, special exhibitions and clubs are also on offer varying between a local history fayre, to a chance for children to see a dinosaur’s fossilised skeleton.
The Leeds City Museum is split into four floors that offer impressive exhibition spaces alongside facilities including toilets, lifts, an information point and shop. Upon entering the Grade II listed building, visitors will have the choice between three key areas on the ground floor. The ‘World View’ gallery will offer the chance to discover more about different cultures to the left-hand side, while large events space ‘The Leeds Arena’ awaits ahead. Also known as ‘Brodrick Hall’, presumably after the building’s designer Cuthbert Brodrick, the 400 capacity arena boasts an embossed map of Leeds on the floor, while five large overhead screens can be projected upon. To the right of here lies ‘The Collectors Cabinet’, which rotates a variety of objects from collectors in the city.
Meanwhile, the lower ground floor is home to a café, conference suite and the ‘Life On Earth’ exhibition, which delves into millions of years of history and includes the ‘Leeds Tiger’. Upstairs, the second floor offers the chance to discover more about local history in ‘The Leeds Story’. Its displays include artefacts dating back to the Iron Age, a replica of a Victorian kitchen with a sink, boiler, cooker and sewing machine, and displays by communities living in Leeds today. As well as exploring themes such as the city’s textile industry, this floor is also home to a balcony area from which visitors can admire the beautiful ‘Leeds Arena’ below.
The third and final floor houses special exhibitions that vary throughout the year, as well as the permanent ‘Ancient Worlds’ gallery. This display is dedicated to worldwide archaeological finds including the previously mentioned ‘Leeds Mummy’, which was the only one of three Egyptian mummies that survived WW2 bombing raids. Another notable find here is a Hellenistic Greek tomb door dating back to 250BCE that features a carved face with patterned border. Offering insight into the natural world, local history and world culture, there’s something to intrigue and excite visitors of all ages and interests.
History of Leeds City Museum
Leeds City Museum was originally opened on Park Row in 1821 by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, who handed over control to what would become Leeds City Council a hundred years later. Unfortunately, the museum suffered a direct hit during bombings in 1941 and much of its collection remained in storage for over 60 years. After the museum’s building closed in 1965, approximately 5% of collections were put on display at the city’s library until 1999, when everything was moved into storage.
Collections were transferred to a resource centre in 2000; meaning much of the collection was only viewable by appointment. However, following a lottery grant in 2004, Leeds City Museum was able to reopen in September 2008, housed in the former Leeds Institute in the centrally located Millennium Square. With new attractions, spacious rooms, improved viewability and wheelchair access, Leeds City Museum is able to continue to educate and inspire visitors into the 21st century.
Whether you’re a history fan, curious about the ‘capital of the north’ or simply looking for an original way to keep the whole family entertained, Leeds City Museum can provide the perfect day out for all ages during a stay at 42 The Calls.
42 The Calls, a Boutique Hotel Close to Leeds City Museum
The Leeds City Museum is around a 5 minute drive or 15 minute walk from 42 The Calls, our 4 star boutique hotel.