Leeds City Museum, Leeds

All, Leeds City Museum, Museums, West Yorkshire

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.

The scores:

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.

The links:

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

All, Galleries, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park offers a powerful and curious selection of sculptures in a glorious open air countryside setting. It’s an unusual combination of an artistic adventure and a weekend walk, so your dog can come too.

The Weston restaurant has an interesting lunch menu (£8-12) and classic teatime fare. The Lemon and Raspberry Drizzle cake and a cup of Lemon and Ginger tea went down well after completing the 4-mile circuit.

My favourite bits:

  • A hearty stroll up to the site’s centre past Damien Hirst’ s Myth (pictured),a flayed unicorn, and the half-peeled giant The Virgin Mother.
  • David Smith’s story in the Underground Gallery, told through his elegant and economic blacksmithing (pictured) and his weighty anti-war Medals of Dishonour.
  • An intimidating Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (pictured) staring down like a disapproving council of aldermen, created by internationally renowned artist/political prisoner Ai Weiwei.
  • A pair of ornate medieval chessmen (pictured), King Hezekiah and Moses doing various unpleasant things to unfortunate snakes.

The scores:

Exhibits: 8/10. World famous names from the contemporary scene and generations past.

Environment: 9/10. A beautiful and unique site, loses a point for its remoteness.

Refreshments: 7/10. Tea and cake perfectly fine, I’ll need to try the lunch menu next time.

Cost & Location: 7/10. Free entry, plus £3.50 to £12 parking… and you’ll need a car!

Overall Score: 7/10.

The links: