Castle, Prison or Museum?

York Castle Museum


The York Castle Museum is located in an old prison. And it feels like it. They have gone to great lengths to make the whole museum child friendly and were very successful.


I personally did not enjoy the gallows set up in the yard but others might!


The period rooms were a joy along with an amazing clothing exhibition. You got to walk down a full length catwalk! Super cool.  The interpretation guides were all very well written and engaging.


They had two different streets (with buildings and shops) one from the Victorian era and one all 60’s decked out. It was a fun comparison but they were in separate wings which seems silly to me.


For the WWI centenary, they had one of the best temporary exhibits I’ve seen yet. You could follow 6 different story lines ( a young soldier, a young nurse, a labourer, etc.) to see how the war changed their lives.  They had trenches, hospitals, a train car all created in the museum.


My problem with this kind of museum is that is has a bit of everything and no focus. The museum was founded by one guy who liked certain things and the collection reflects that. Each section is done really well done but doesn’t necessarily connect with the next one.


Rating: 4/5


Pros: Excellent for kids and families, each separate exhibit is well done, friendly staff, cute shop/ café, interesting special exhibitions


Cons: Takes a long time to see everything (2 + hours minimum), no cohesive story, oppressive prison atmosphere, not the best for those with mobility issues


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