MuseumSights and activitiesLeeds City Museum

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The Leeds City Museum in the Leeds Mechanics’ Institute building on Millennium Square has a range of exhibits mostly focusing on the city’s history.

What to see at the Leeds City Museum

While it has a strong focus on local history, the Leeds City Museum also has a large collection of artefacts from around the world including a natural history collection and artefacts from the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Only the following galleries are currently open to the public: Life on Earth, The Leeds Story and the Fast x Slow Fashion exhibition.

The Leeds Story gallery has exhibits about the history of the city from prehistoric times to the modern day. Artefacts on display in this gallery include the Malham Pipe, an Iron Age musical instrument discovered on Malham Moor in the Yorkshire Dales that was made from the bone of a sheep. There is also a large map of Leeds printed on the floor of the museum’s central hall and a scale model of the Quarry Hill flats.

The Life on Earth gallery is home to the museum’s natural history collection, which includes dinosaur poo and the skeleton of a long-finned pilot whale.

The much-loved Leeds Tiger is the highlight of this gallery. The Leeds Tiger was originally shot near a village in India and was presented to the museum as a tiger skin rug in the 19th century. It had since been combined with several other tiger skins and stuffed with straw and for over a century it has been a somewhat saggy amateurish attempt at taxidermy that has endeared itself to many of Leeds citizens.

The Leeds Tiger was a tigerskin rug when it was acquired by the museum in the 19th century and has since been combined with several other tiger skins to create the tiger that has become so popular with visitors today. (Photo: Linda Spashett [CC BY-SA 3.0])
The Leeds Tiger was a tigerskin rug when it was acquired by the museum in the 19th century and has since been combined with several other tiger skins to create the tiger that has become so popular with visitors today. (Photo: Linda Spashett [CC BY-SA 3.0])
The Ancient Worlds gallery has a collection of archaeological artefacts from around the world including a Roman floor mosaic dating from AD 250 (from Aldborough in North Yorkshire); Nesuamun (a 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy); carved marble Greek tomb doors dating from 250 BC and an iron replica of an ancient Greek statue of Aphrodite (the original – dating from the 1st century BC – is in the British Museum).

The World View gallery showcases culture from around the world. This gallery is currently host to Voices of Asia, a long-term exhibition about Asian culture with an emphasis on Asian communities in Leeds and around the world.

The Collectors’ Cabinet showcases objects that have been collected by people in Leeds from 1700 onwards. This includes a skeleton of a moa and the Circe bronze sculpture by Alfred Drury.

Temporary exhibitions at the Leeds City Museum

The museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions.

Fast x Slow Fashion is the current exhibition (running until 29 November 2020). The exhibition charts 300 years of fashion and takes a look at how our relationship with clothes shopping has changed over this period.

Visiting the Leeds City Museum

The Leeds City Museum is located on Millennium Square on the northern edge of Leeds city centre. The Henry Moore Institute and the Leeds Art Gallery are both just a 2–3-minute walk from here and most other points of interest in the city centre are around a 10–15-minute away.

The Leeds City Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire (Photo: John Lord [CC BY-SA 2.0])
The Leeds City Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire (Photo: John Lord [CC BY-SA 2.0])
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday; it is closed on Mondays. There is no charge to enter the museum so it is well worth popping in for a look if you’re in the neighbourhood.

All areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible.

The museum has its own gift shop and cafe and its city centre location means that there are plenty of other places to eat and drink nearby.

 

Amenities
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Gift shop

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