First opened in the early part of the nineteenth century, the Yorkshire Museum was one of the first purpose built museums in the country. In more recent years the building has undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment and reopened in 2010 to much fanfare.
The neo-classical facade is a clue to the focus of the museum’s collection. York was once an outpost of Roman civilisation in the north and excavations in the city have turned up a mass of finds, including statues, mosaics and objects of everyday Roman life.
These Roman artefacts are the real stand out items in the Yorkshire Museum’s collection, however, there are also displays of items from the Saxon and Viking periods – including the famous Vale of York Hoard – and some much older objects from the natural world.
The various archaeological finds have been grouped into a number of different exhibitions.
Capital of The North
York had something of a renaissance in the medieval period and again rose as a significant seat of power in the region. The Capital of The North exhibition explores the lives of significant people from the period and includes a number of significant medieval artefacts.
Beyond Jorvik: The Vale of York Hoard and the Viking World
The discovery of the Vale of York Hoard in 2007 was one of the most significant archaeological finds in over a hundred and fifty years. The Hoard includes a vast array of coins, ingots and ornaments. Many of these objects originated in places as far from York as Russia and Afghanistan – evidence of the complexity and extent of Viking trading networks.
Roman York: Meet the People of the Empire
The museum’s Roman collection really provides an insight into the sophistication of classical civilisation. There are finely carved sculptures, carefully crafted jewelry as well as an impressive heating system. Despite the passage of nearly two centuries, these artefacts are incredibly well preserved – you can even walk across an actual Roman mosaic floor. The six skulls of people from the four corners of the Empire who were buried in York also are evidence of the cosmopolitan nature of the city during this period.
Extinct: A Way of Life
The Extinct gallery contains the remains of species long since vanished. There are the antlers of a Great Deer, the tusk of a Woolly Mammoth as well as the bones of the famous Dodo. The other side of the conservation story is on display as well – where human intervention has had a positive impact on population numbers. Oh, and they’ve even got a dinosaur.
Visiting The Yorkshire Museum
The Yorkshire Museum is located in the Museum Gardens a short walk from the Minster. If you’re travelling by car, the most convenient car park nearby is probably Marygate (the turning for Marygate is off the A19 just past Bootham Bar).
It takes around one and a half to two hours to get round the museum. Entry is £7.50 for adults (optional Gift Aid donation included) and under 16s get in free with a paying adult.
Opening hours are 10am till 5pm (seven days a week).