The Can’t-Miss Museums in Bradford
While the city should be rightly proud of the amazing architecture, musical heritage and fine food on offer in Bradford, some of the city’s better attractions are its museums, each with an exhibition holding the treasured English heritage. If you’re looking for some information before your trip, to ensure the best experience, let LoyalFree be your tour guide to the best museums in Bradford, and other free and fun things to do in the city for children, families and couples.
So what are the best museums in Bradford?
As a museum reviewer, I would argue that almost every museum in Bradford is worth your time. However, if you’re only here for a weekend you will have to prioritise. These are our best-of picks, based on TripAdvisor rating and our personal opinion having visited. From science to history to art, there should be something for everyone in this list.
National Science and Media Museum
The National Science and Media Museum is an absolutely colossal construction, over seven stories tall. Each floor has exhibits covering the history of media technology, all the way from early photography and television to modern inventions like Facebook and YouTube, all the while explaining the physics of light and sound, and Bradford’s place in television history. Kids and adults alike can learn a lot about how our modern, screen dominated world works thanks to this museum, and it’s the perfect place to whet your appetite for Bradford’s upcoming term as the UK city of culture in 2025 too.
Admission is free but it’s recommended that you book online in advance, as the popularity of the National Science and Media Museum is very high, and as such it can get very busy. The museum is also home to the first IMAX cinema built in Europe, though bear in mind this is an experience you have to buy a ticket for.
Bradford Industrial Museum
The Bradford Industrial Museum is a museum exhibiting the history of the industrial revolution, with a focus on things like the modern printing press, textile machinery, steam power and early motor vehicles. There are several working exhibits maintained by a dedicated volunteer team, which really bring the learning experience to life for the whole family.
The history of the industrial revolution is often glossed over, as we all learned about the Victorian era in school, but the cultural effects of that key moment in history are still being felt today. While it’s engaging and interactive for children, it can be just as enlightening for parents.
This is an independent photography museum in Bradford, and one of the oldest venues for contemporary photography in Europe. There is always an art exhibition running, and it’s always a visual treat.
There is a real feeling of community in the Impression Gallery, as artists will frequently run interactive workshops and other events, but it’s just as open to those on holiday as it is to locals. It is attached to the library, next to the City Park, and this central location makes it an easy recommendation for any time of day.
If you’re interested in mediaeval history or the paranormal, Bolling Hall Museum is the place to visit. The oldest parts of the building date back to the 14th century, though it was mentioned as early as the Domesday Book. Now, the manor house serves as an educational and informative museum right next to Bowling Park. It is a little outside the centre of town, but it’s definitely worth it.
Bolling Hall was a stronghold during the English Civil War, and so there is a focus on that era of history, but there are rooms depicting several eras that the venue has survived through. There is also the Ghost Room, a feature that trained mediums claim is haunted. If you’re interested in the history of Bradford, this is the place to go.
The Peace Museum
The Peace Museum documents the history of social reform and agitators against tyranny and extremism. The popularity of this museum is quite low, but it being quiet makes the experience of walking around and learning all the more impactful. School trips are also available, which are recommended as the museum can provide a lot of inspiration to young minds.
The Fuse Art Space
This haven for artists is a small but enriching venue in the midst of the shopping district. The art exhibit is always worth looking through for half an hour or so, but if you’re able to plan you should check their website to see when one of their shows is on. The Fuse Art Space frequently holds music events and they’re always a treat. They also serve local microbrews and wine, and are opposite a delicious bakery. Definitely worth a visit on your way through the city!
Bradford Police Museum
If you’re looking for a dose of a more specialised historical exhibition, the Bradford Police Station is worth a visit. As the name suggests, this museum in Bradford explores the history of policing in the city. There are excellent tour guides that will walk you through the Victorian jail cells and a restored courtroom that is often used in modern television productions. There are also uniforms and photos from the Victorian era on display which really bring the exhibition to life.
Last but not least is the most highly recommended museum in Bradford – the Salts Mill. The enormous old mill has been converted into an art museum, and there are treasures to uncover in each gallery. Most heavily featured is the local artist David Hockney, and his most recent project that he completed during lockdown has a whole exhibition dedicated to it.
There are also photography exhibits, a book shop and an antique centre, for those who don’t enjoy fine art. Truly, there is something for everyone in the Salts Mill.
There are also restaurants and shops on the lower floors, meaning you could spend a whole day here if you were so inclined – and this reviewer has several times! The popularity of Salts Mill is well earned, and although it’s often busy you should definitely make a visit while you’re in the City. So, hopefully one of these museums in Bradford piqued your interest. While admission to most of these venues is free, we always recommend donating to them if you can. It is only thanks to the generosity of visitors that these museums can stay open, after all.Posted on