Table of Contents
- 1 Here’s a local guide’s recommendation of the six major Manchester museums.
Manchester is one of those metropolitan cities that manages to be simultaneously rich in local history. One minute you’re walking the corridors of the University of Manchester established in 1813 on Oxford road. The next minute you’re chilling at MediaCityUK overlooking the view at Salford Quays.
One of my favourite things to do when I visit any city either in England or Europe is to visit their museums. Underneath all the modernisation you see in the big cities, lies layers of documented histories in the museums. While it’s nice to spend some time at a state of the art library in Birmingham or shop till you drop at any the markets at Leeds, museums like the Museum of Liverpool and Potteries Museum and Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent will always have a special place in my heart. So when I go on a day trip or city break, I try to visit at least one museum.
A couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have any trips on my schedule so I decided to take a tour of all the major Manchester museums. Turns out there are about 13 museums in Manchester in total. That’s quite a lot and too much to explore, all in one day. It’s also too much for someone coming to Manchester for a day trip or weekend gateway except you’re that into local history. So I’ve decided to compile the most important museums around Manchester city centre that you can pay a visit.
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Here’s a local guide’s recommendation of the six major Manchester museums.
This is probably one of the most popular museums in Manchester as a result of the Old Trafford stadium. I mean even if you can’t get a ticket to watch one of the games, you can explore the history of the club and stadium at the museum. A few weeks ago, I had the chance the attend the 110 birthday exhibition of the Old Trafford Stadium. Of course, I used the opportunity to walk around the stadium because I wasn’t sure the next time I would visit. Surprisingly, I enjoyed learning about the history of the Old Trafford stadium to the trophies, jerseys, memorable events and whatnot. While most of the information flew over my head because I’m not into football, it was well curated for a non-fan like me. So if you’re a football fan visiting Manchester, don’t forget to stop by the Manchester United Museum and Tours.
I think I visited this museum during my Oxford Road photo walk last year. I woke up one day and the weather was really nice so I decided to head out and take photos for my Unsplash page. Along the way, I stopped by the Whitworth Art Gallery as well as the University of Manchester Museum. Turns out the museum is actually part of the University. I can’t exactly remember but one of the exhibitions I saw was rare and extinct sea creatures including a massive dinosaur. You can learn more about their collections on their website. I also remember that I got science vibes. Like the entire museum would only interest you if you have a background or an interest in the sciences. Otherwise, it wasn’t half bad.
Just as the name implies, the People’s History Museum tells stories about the history of the people of Britain. From the political history to the social activisms and what not. From the history of the Labour Party to the Margret Thatcher and Tony Blair’s regimes. They try to highlight all the important dates in the history of human rights. For instance; the dates that women in the UK were allowed to vote and paid equally. If the politics and/or history are your thing, then you’ll enjoy a visit to the People’s History Museum. I couldn’t stay long because they were about to close but I enjoyed my visit nonetheless.
Can I just say that Manchester can easily be called a sport’s fan paradise? You have two stadiums and two-sport museums. The National Football Museum is easily one of my favourite architecture in the city. Plus it is located right in the heart of the city centre, it’s not very hard to miss. Similar to the Manchester United Museum and Tours but rather than being specific to one club, it covers even more information on different clubs. From local to international football. From British to European football. Everything you want to know about football is right there. If you are a football fan, this is a must-visit.
Obviously, Manchester has a thing for the sciences but I’m not annoyed to say the least. It just means that the people in the science field get to have some fun as well. If you want to learn about all the great inventions and innovations that have originated from Manchester, this museum is the place to be. According to them;
In the early 19th century, the extraordinary growth of Manchester’s cotton industry and the development of its pioneering transport system drove the town’s expansion and put it at the heart of a global network of manufacturing and trade. With textiles the driving force, Manchester emerged as a complex industrial city, producing goods of every description.
If industrialisation is right up your alley or you’re just curious about the economical history of Manchester, this is the place to be.
When I visited this museum, I was so sad because they had closed. The last entry was at 3pm. While I might not be that interested in the Police Museum, I didn’t hesitate to go because it is right there in the city centre. So I thought, what’s there to lose? Anyway, just as the name implies, it is Greater Manchester‘s law enforcement history traced through historic photos, old weapons and artefacts. So, if weaponry is your thing, this is a good place to hand out. Thankfully, entry is free. According to them;
It not only collects and preserves archive material and objects relating to the history of policing in the Greater Manchester area, but acts as an important resource for community engagement, where visitors can talk to staff and volunteers about policing. GMP Museum holds primary and secondary source information about the history and development Greater Manchester policing. Our archive holdings are a mix of records – both official and personal.
Saving the best for the last, the IWM North was easily my favourite museum to visit because of the view. Located by the banks of Salford Quays, the view was everything and then some. The museum was built to tell powerful stories about war from the First World War to date. The immersive experience at IWM North easily reminds me of the Museum of Liverpool which is currently my favourite museum at the moment. When a museum is intentional about customer satisfaction, you end up leaving with an unforgettable experience.
If you’re visiting Manchester for the weekend, I suggest you split your itinerary into two days. The first one should cover the City Centre and nearby attractions while the second should cover the Salford Quays and the Old Trafford Stadium. Look forward to a post sharing more insight into these itineraries.