Leeds City Museum provides an interesting hour or two exploring a varied (if slightly disjointed) collection of exhibits, staying true to the multiculturalism of modern day Leeds. The museum is well set up for kids with plenty of activities, low-level exhibits and a recreation area so there are plenty of young families which gives the place a nice (but noisy!) buzz.
The museum follows a roughly chronological order starting on the top floor with a whistle-stop tour through ancient and medieval Leeds and Yorkshire. The bulk of the exhibits are naturally from the industrial revolution onwards, when production and prosperity exploded in Leeds. There’s also a colourful collection of modern exhibits documenting the stories of immigrants and particularly the Asian populations of the city.
The café on the ground floor offered very affordable stodge at under a fiver and an even cheaper kids menu. Decent cup of coffee too.
My favourite bits:
- The Wolf and Twins mosaic, which depicted the tale of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome in someone’s villa in Aldborough in the 4th century.
- An 2,500 year old pipe (looks a recorder for beginners) found in Malham, carved from a sheep’s leg bone with visible teeth marks!
- A glittering boiler from the 1880s, the same decade Taylor’s of Harrogate were starting out on their journey to take over the British tea business.
- A gorgeous Syrian wall tile from the mid-1800s, the inscription reads: All that is on the face of the earth will perish, but the Face of your Lord, the Glorious, the Gracious, will forever remain.
- A delicate palm-sized globe from 1825 – 1835 which was advertised as “a correct globe with the new discoveries” including Australia and the South Pacific Islands.
- The mummified remains and facial reconstruction of Nesyamun, who lived and died in Thebes around 3,000 years ago. He was a priest in the Temple of Amun who looked after the sacrificial bulls.
- A beautifully arranged bureau of butterflies, moths, fossils, Victorian stationery and a microscope in the Collectors Cabinet section of the museum.
Exhibits: 5/10. A very wide range, a little piecemeal and very few showstoppers.
Environment: 5/10. Décor tired and functional with the odd child’s tantrum in earshot.
Refreshments: 6/10. Cheap, filling, unexciting.
Cost & Location: 9/10. At the top of town in the city’s cultural quarter and free.
Overall Score: 6/10. A great local museum, but in need of a refresh.