Hull City of Culture 2017: Top art galleries and museums to see in the city of Hull

| 20 November 2013

As Hull prepares to be the 2017 City of Culture, we pick some sites to see in the city

Hands on History Museum

Fittingly housed in an atmospheric 15th century building, there are three key displays here: The Victorian Gallery is all about the lives of Children in Hull during the 19th century (complete with smells and tactile features), The Ancient Egypt gallery contains a mummy and Tutankhamen treasures, and The Story of Hull tells tales from the city across the ages.

Ferens Art Gallery

As excellent a gallery as you’ll find anywhere in the country, the Ferens hosted the work of Martin Creed as part of the Artist Rooms tour this year. The 11-gallery resident collection is outstanding, ranging from European Old Masters and 18th Century holdings to a Children’s Gallery and early 20th century British painting. Become a friend of the gallery.

Hull and East Riding Museum

Jurassic Humberside in invigorating detail – mysterious Bronze Age treasures, stone tools from Palaeolithic times, the spoils of 5th century Viking and German settlers and The North Grimston Sword – an example of Celtic metal art from the Iron Age – are all here. Its core revolves around a town-like recreation of the Roman settlement of Petuaria, and the Tudors and Stuarts gallery recounts the refusal of Hull’s governor to allow King Charles to seize control, sparking the English Civil War.

Hull Maritime Museum

Beginning in the 16th century, Hull’s whaling trade was at its most prolific around 250 years ago, when dozens of whalers would return from the Arctic with oil and bone from hundreds of Greenland whales. These three galleries are full of logbooks, paintings, tusks and teeth, not to mention the largest collection of scrimshaw outside of America.

Streetlife Museum

Joseph Rank, a late 19th century flour mill pioneer whose factories powered part of the industrial revolution, had Hull as his loaf-producing epicentre. Find out more about his life here, as well as a Bicycle Gallery with bikes going back to 1818, a world-renowned carriage collection, a reconstruction of a bygone city street, motor car and railway galleries and much more.

Wilberforce House

William Wilberforce, the Kingston-Upon-Hull MP who did much to abolish slavery in Britain, was born in this impressive 17th century building. It’s now the home of galleries dedicated to him and enslaved Africans, revealing the appalling conditions they faced and modern day attempts to halt slavery. One gallery is linked to Hull’s twin town of Freetown, in Sierra Leone. Take a virtual tour.


Set in a former fruit market, Dinostar is a quirky take on our fearsome forebearers full of fossils, rocks and the odd T-rex and Triceratops skull. Generally open only on Sundays, it extends its dates during school holidays.

Museum of Club Culture

Turn on, tune in, keep the faith and shine on at one of the country’s most unusual museums. Previous events have included Super 8 screenings on specific scenes and exhibitions – such as The Art of Clubbing – to coincide with cultural festivals in the city.

The Deep

This huge aquarium contains thousands of animals, a bug zone and, among 3,500 fish, Europe’s only pair of green sawfish. There are also rays, sharks and, in a recent breakthrough, a species of tropical seagrass which is the only example to have been grown in a European aquarium.

The Spurn Lightship

Built in 1927, this dependable vessel guided ships through the Humber for almost 50 years before being bought by the council and turned into a museum moored at the Marina. Open between April and September, interpretation panels explain its story and significance during the off-season.

Hull History Centre

The elegant headquarters of city records stretching as far back as the 13th century, the record-breaking History Centre will host the first City of Culture event with a talk on the life of early 20th century novelist Winifred Holtby this weekend. Poet Philip Larkin and pilot Amy Johnson are a couple of famous names whose stories are stored here – meet more on their Hull People pages.

Follow the UK City of Culture 2017 @2017Hull and use the hashtag #Hull2017.

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