Best Museums in Nottingham

Photo credit: ‘Nottingham’ by Briam Adamson on Flickr (license)

As the biggest city in the East Midlands, Nottingham is home to a number of museums that make for a thrilling day out. Best of all, most are free or offer generous student discounts, so there’s no excuse not to soak up some culture and learn about Nottingham’s ancient history.

National Justice Museum

Housed in the old county jail, the National Justice Museum is the perfect place to learn about the history of crime and punishment in the United Kingdom. Visit real courtrooms and experience old dungeons and prison cells, once home to Nottinghamshire’s most notorious criminals.

Take part in a trial court case, and check out the permanent exhibitions to learn more about Britain’s justice system at home and in the colonies. Student tickets are £9.95, but for just £4.05 more you can grab a joint ticket giving you entry to the nearby City of Caves.

Photo Credit: ‘Down to the Cells’ by It’s No Game on Flickr (licence)

City of Caves

It’s no secret that Nottingham is built on a maze of over 500 sandstone caves, carved out over the centuries and once used as a housing area and a World War Two air-raid shelter. 

The City of Caves, owned by the Justice Museum, allows you to investigate Nottingham’s subterranean life, exploring what’s left of the old Victorian slums before they were buried by the city’s new developments.

Photo Credit: ‘Tanner, City of Caves, Nottingham, UK.JPG’ by Cory Doctorow on Flickr (licence)

Wollaton Park Museums

Wollaton Hall has already featured in our Top Five Parks in Nottingham article, and there’s a good reason why. 

The Tudor country house, which dominates the 2km park, is now home to Nottingham’s Natural History Museum. Home to 750,000 objects, Wollaton Hall is free to enter and a must-see attraction for anyone interested in nature and archeology. Don’t miss the Hall’s most famous resident, George the Gorilla!
Before you leave, pay a visit to the Nottingham Industrial Museum, situated behind the Hall’s 17th century stables. The museum, which houses a working Basford Beam Engine and an original Thomas Humber bike, is only £2 to enter for students.

Photo Credit: ‘Wollaton Hall’ by It’s No Game on Flickr (licence)

Green’s Windmill & Science Centre

If you are studying at the University of Nottingham, you might recognise the name George Green, but you might not know that he was a self-taught mathematician born in the Nottingham suburb of Sneinton. 

His father, a baker, built a windmill used to grind grain in 1807. The windmill is still fully operational, and visitors are welcome to see it working, or buy the flour it produces. 

The nearby Science Centre encourages you to experiment with magnetism, a key feature of MRI scans. Even though the modern scientific technique was developed in the 1970s, its core principles were discovered by George Green in 1828. You can learn all about Green’s contribution to modern technologies in Nottingham’s very own science museum.

Museum of Nottingham Life

Just below Nottingham Castle, the Museum of Nottingham Life is located in Brewhouse Yard, a row of houses once home to 127 people.

The museum explores 300 years of Nottingham history, preserving reconstructed rooms and shopfronts from different periods of history, including a model Victorian home.

Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed for redevelopment, with a plan to re-open alongside the Castle later this year.

Photo Credit: ‘The Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard – Nottingham’ by Elliot Brown on Flickr (licence)

Click here for updates on the re-opening of the Museum of Nottingham Life and Nottingham Castle.

Nottingham Castle Museum

Like the Museum of Nottingham Life, Nottingham Castle is currently closed for refurbishment. 

Once it reopens, Nottingham Castle will launch digital exhibitions to bring the history of the city to life. A series of animated films are being produced to be played in the new ‘Rebellion Gallery’, exploring Nottingham’s status as a Rebel City, while a Robin Hood gallery will celebrate the life of the city’s most famous resident.

A brand new, state-of-the-art visitor centre will welcome tourists from all over the globe, solidifying the castle’s status as the premier visitor attraction in the East Midlands.  Remember to keep up-to-date with the Castle’s grand reopening here!

This post has been written by Matteo Everett

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