Manchester is a dream for those looking to explore unique, outstanding museums and galleries covering modern art to the history of democracy and beyond. Here you can see entire museums dedicated to reform, radicalism and social justice. You can see classic and modern art or even walk through the rooms of a home that once housed literary royalty. You can stroll among tended gardens filled with vibrant flowers, take the kids to a living history exhibit where they'll learn about life in the Victorian era and even climb into the cabins of historic vehicles. Here are the 10 best museums and galleries in Manchester that are sure to excite and thrill as well as educate you and your whole family.

    1

    The Whitworth

    Check out 60,000 exhibits tracing hundreds of years of art

    • Families
    • History

    The Whitworth Art Gallery, located in Whitworth Park in the heart of Manchester, offers more than 60,000 exhibits and works dating back hundreds of years. It's a part of the University of Manchester and opened in 1889. The artists represented in its vast collection include William Blake, Camille Pissarro and Thomas Gainsborough, among others. In addition to sculptures, paintings and classical arts from days gone by, the museum offers an extensive collection of contemporary and modern art, including a collection of wallpaper that includes over 5,000 examples of this unique art form. Best of all, it's free to attend.

    Location: Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +44 (0)1612 757450

    Map
    2

    Salford Museum and Art Gallery

    Walk a living Victorian-era street and interact with historic figures

    • Families
    • History
    • Budget

    The Salford Museum and Art Gallery is just a few minutes from the Manchester city centre in the heart of Peel Park and features a wealth of living history exhibits. The museum opened in 1850 and offers the chance for adults and kids alike to experience an authentic recreation of life in Victorian Salford in the Lark Hill Place living history exhibit. Kids will also appreciate the Explorer Trail, where they can interact directly with important historical figures from Manchester and the surrounding areas as they wander through the galleries. The museum offers free admission to all visitors and makes for a fun family day out that's as educational as it is exciting.

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    Location: Crescent, Salford M5 4WU, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 11.30 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1617 780800

    Map

    photo by Richard Rogerson (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Museum of Transport

    Climb into the cabin of a historic vehicle

    • Families
    • History

    The Museum of Transport offers more than 70 classic and antique vehicles with which you can interact as well as a wide range of vintage transport artefacts, maps and memorabilia. Here you can see blueprints for historic vehicles as well as sales brochures, photographs and film. The museum also includes public transport items such as route maps and tickets. After you explore the vehicles on-site, stop by the old-school-style cafeteria to grab a bite to eat. You can also try out one of the heritage bus rides to Shudehill, which are free of charge. You'll also find transport-related gifts and souvenirs at the gift shop. It's all just 12 minutes north of the city centre.

    Location: Boyle St, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M8 8UW, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1612 052122

    Map

    photo by Firing up the quattro.... (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Manchester Jewish Museum

    Explore the history of the Jewish migration

    • Families
    • History

    The Manchester Jewish Museum is one of the largest Jewish museums in Britain and includes a Grade-II listed synagogue with multiple floors of exhibits, documents and information. The collection covers the entire history of Judaism in Great Britain and across the world. It has undergone a massive refurbishment to add a 2-storey extension, new gallery space and modern cafe. The museum's collection traces the Jewish migration to Manchester from the 18th century to the modern era. It includes more than 530 oral histories, more than 20,000 photographs, over 135 recorded interviews with Holocaust survivors and a wide range of objects and documents from tools to arts and crafts to diaries, all in the heart of Manchester.

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    Location: 190 Cheetham Hill Rd, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M8 8LW, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1618 349879

    Map
    5

    Ordsall Hall

    Visit a hidden Elizabethan gem of Salford

    • Families
    • History

    Ordsall Hall is a hidden gem of the Salford region, a stunning Elizabethan black-and-white, half-timbered manor house dating back more than 800 years. You can enjoy the immaculately tended gardens that showcase themed areas with gardening methods throughout history or take a tour of the oldest building in Salford. This hall has served as a family home, a church hall, a men's club and many other purposes throughout its history. It's open to the public, with each room restored to its original historic glory. Tours take you through the kitchen, great hall, Star Chamber of Sir John Radclyffe, Frederic Shields Gallery, Egerton Gallery, Great Chamber, Italian Plaster Ceiling Room and Coat of Arms Room.

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    Location: 322 Ordsall Ln, Salford M5 3AN, UK

    Open: Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm, Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed Friday–Saturday)

    Phone: +44 (0)1618 720251

    Map

    photo by Mike Peel (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    IWM North

    See J.R.R. Tolkien's World War I revolver

    • Families
    • History
    • Budget

    IWM North, or the Imperial War Museum North, is a branch of the Imperial War Museum that focuses on the impact of modern warfare and conflicts on humanity. It's located in Trafford Park and offers stunning modernist architecture in the heart of Salford Quays. It's completely free to visit, making it ideal for a budget- and family-friendly day out. Notable exhibits include a World War I revolver wielded by J.R.R. Tolkien and a piece of the World Trade Center. The exhibits encompass 2,000 artefacts, interactive displays, photographs, documents and ephemera. Special rotating events and exhibits are held all year long, so keep checking back to see what's going on.

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    Location: Trafford Wharf Rd, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 1TZ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1618 364000

    Map
    7

    Elizabeth Gaskell's House

    Walk the steps of literary royalty like Charles Dickens and Emily Brontë

    • Families
    • History

    Elizabeth Gaskell's House is just a few minutes from Oxford Road and is a fully restored Victorian home that once played host to the literary royalty of the day. During the 19th century, this home saw such notable names as Charles Dickens, Emily Brontë and John Ruskin, and was home to Elizabeth Gaskell. For years it sat languishing as an at-risk building, but after a £2.5 million restoration, it now offers an intimate look into the literary past of the Manchester region. You can walk through authentically decorated period rooms, enjoy a light meal and get a souvenir in a traditional tea room and shop or walk through tended gardens after checking out visiting speakers and rotating exhibitions.

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    Location: 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester M13 9LW, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Thursday and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday and Friday–Saturday)

    Phone: +44 (0)1612 732215

    Map

    photo by Patyo1994 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Stockport Air Raid Shelters

    See where locals took shelter from the German Blitz

    • Families
    • History

    The Stockport Air Raid Shelters encompass a mile-long stretch of underground chambers and tunnels that served to protect the residents of Manchester during World War II. When German air raids went on, this is the place locals went to for safety and shelter. The tunnels have been immaculately maintained and today serve as a history museum of those violent days. Here you can see the chambers carved into the natural sandstone while learning about the way people lived during the war. You'll see displays and follow audio guides that illustrate the events that took place here. After you're done, you can find 1940s-themed mementoes in the gift shop.

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    Location: 61 Chestergate, Cheshire, Stockport SK1 1NE, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1614 741940

    Map

    photo by Gerald England (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    The Fusilier Museum

    Learn about 300 years of history behind the Lancashire Fusiliers

    • Families
    • History

    The Fusilier Museum contains a vast collection dedicated to the Lancashire Fusiliers and includes uniforms, medals, documents, photos and artefacts. The collection traces the history of the regiment over 3 centuries. It's located in Bury, about 30 minutes north of the Manchester city centre. The collection encompasses both the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the XX Lancashire Fusiliers, with a main gallery dedicated to each. The Lancashire gallery traces the first 300 years of the regiment until it was absorbed into the Royal Regiment, and the Royal gallery traces them through to the modern day. The collection encompasses both permanent and temporary rotating exhibits.

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    Location: Moss St, Bury BL9 0DF, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1617 638950

    Map
    10

    People's History Museum

    Learn about the history of social justice in England

    • Families
    • History

    The People's History Museum is dedicated to the history of social justice, equality, democracy and radicalism in the heart of Manchester. It traces the history of democracy over 200 years to the Peterloo Massacre and continuing through to the modern day. It offers visiting speakers, rotating exhibits and workshops all year long. Originally a collection of the Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative History Society, today it offers artefacts, print and other media devoted to suffragism, voting rights and exhibits tracing the Labour, Communist, Liberal and Conservative parties. It's a fascinating exploration of politics and reform presented through themed exhibits in a light, airy and welcoming space. After exploring, stop at the Left Bank cafe bar for a light meal.

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    Location: Left Bank, Manchester M3 3ER, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1618 389190

    Map

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