Museum of Wigan Life

Museum of Wigan Life
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Following a £1.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund refurbishment, the award-winning Museum of Wigan Life (formerly The History Shop) opened to the public, offering a fantastic opportunity for learning and discovery.

The Museum of Wigan Life is housed in Wigan’s first public library and first public building with electric lighting. Alfred Waterhouse designed the building, which opened in 1878. He also designed the Natural History Museum in London and Manchester Town Hall. In 1936 George Orwell researched his book 'The Road to Wigan Pier' in the Reference Library (now Family History and Local Studies) upstairs.

Discover the people and places of Wigan borough, past and present at the Museum of Wigan Life. Lively displays on everything from sport to world war and from music to festivals in Wigan, Leigh and across the borough.

Do you know the tale of Mab’s Cross?
Who is our most famous ukulele player?
And why is Wigan so famous for pies?

You’ll find all the answers and more in our main gallery. Our special exhibitions explore aspects of local history from rugby league to the mysterious sport of clog fighting.

The museum especially welcomes families. Trails for children age 7-11 are available on reception, and the special exhibition has children’s activities. We host a varied and exciting programme of events for adults and families. Please visit our website to find out what is in store!

The Museum of Wigan Life Shop offers a huge range of products from miners lamps to the popular ‘I Love Wigan Pie’ range – now featuring handcrafted mugs and teaspoon rests. Try our specialist maps for the family historian or chose a bag of Uncle Joe's Mint Balls to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Venue Type:

Museum, Archive

Opening hours

Monday 9:00 - 2:00
Tuesday 9:00 - 2:00
Wednesday 9:00 - 2:00
Thursday 12.00 - 17.00
Friday 12.00 - 17.00
Saturday 9:00 - 2:00
Sunday Closed

Closed: Sundays
Bank Holidays

Admission charges


Getting there

The museum is at the end of Library Street, five minutes walk from Wigan town centre and 10 minutes walk from Wigan Wallgate and Wigan Northern Western train stations and Wigan bus station. There is very limited parking outside the museum but there is a multi-storey at the Grand Arcade shopping centre.

Collection details

Archaeology, Coins and Medals, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Industry, Music, Natural Sciences, Photography, Science and Technology, Social History

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Childs Play A Celebration of Childhood Exhibition

  • 3 April 2018 — 31 January 2019 *on now

Currently on display is our new temporary exhibition Childs Play covering from how life was like as a child in the Victorian era, from schooling to working life. We have lots of interactions from a school room setup, dressing up and putting your own puppet show on! plus much more. A must see exhibition!

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Free exhibition

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Talk by Charlie Guy ME

  • 28 June 2018 1-2pm

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. – Isaiah 26:19.

The treatment of the dead throughout history has undergone an evolution spanning social, economic and religious domains – the historical treatment of the body runs concurrent to contemporary concerns of how best to deal with a corpse. The Biblical concept of sleep as a metaphor for death is a common theme within both the old and new testaments and throughout the 19th century to rest in peace was essential for the spiritual wellbeing of the deceased. So, when it came to scientific research, dissection was the Christian equivalent of arriving to a party wearing the wrong trainers - nobody was going to get into Heaven in 4 parts. Prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832, under the Murder Act only the bodies of executed murderers were allowed to be dissected and anatomised by the medical schools. It was therefore necessary for the 10 or so universities in Britain offering medicine as a vocation to resort to other methods of supply to meet demand – the services of the Resurrection Man. The lure of the financial reward was enough for men to risk not only their morality but also their lives.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£2.50 includes Tea/Coffee

Royal Children in Ancient Egypt -Talk by Dr Campbell Price

  • 13 September 2018 12:30-1:30pm

The lives of royal children are perhaps the best known from ancient Egyptian society. This lecture traces the experience of being a child using archaeological evidence before illustrating the special status of the Pharaoh's offspring.
Places are limited so please book by phoning 01942 828128 or emailing

Suitable for

  • Any age


£2.50 includes Tea/Coffee

Dead and Buried: The Wants and Worries of the 19th Century Deceased - Talk by Charlie Guy MA

  • 31 October 2018 12-1pm

Join us on Halloween to dispel the dark myths of the Victorian dead and shine a light on some of the forgotten, outdated and downright creepy funerary practices, traditions and superstitions of the age. From booby-trapped coffins and body-snatchers to photography and funeral souvenirs, come and explore the fascinating world of the Victorian dead brought back to life.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£2.50 includes Tea/Coffee
Booking essential, please telephone (01942) 828128 or email to book your place.

Getting there

The museum is at the end of Library Street, five minutes walk from Wigan town centre and 10 minutes walk from Wigan Wallgate and Wigan Northern Western train stations and Wigan bus station. There is very limited parking outside the museum but there is a multi-storey at the Grand Arcade shopping centre.

Museum of Wigan Life
Library Street
Greater Manchester




01942 828128

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.