While Manchester is commonly associated with its thriving food and drink scene, the city is also home to a number of fantastic museums – perfect for pottering around next time it’s raining or you fancy a little bit of a cultural reset. From museums uncovering the city’s industrial heritage, to those telling the heartfelt stories of people from the past, here’s our guide to the best museums in Manchester.
1. Imperial War Museum North
Manchester is home to the North’s first Imperial War Museum – where Mancs can see memorabilia from conflicts since the First World War, while exploring the effects these conflicts have had on the world. Sitting on the Manchester Ship Canal, the museum boasts impressive architecture and interiors, which are designed to unsettle and disorientate you with sloping walls and sharp angles. Discover art, photographs, artefacts and impressive exhibitions – which have recently included the beautiful poppy installation. Entrance is free and you can get tickets here. Imperial War Museum North, Trafford Wharf Rd, Trafford Park, Stretford, M17 1TZ.
2. National Football Museum
England’s national museum of football can be found right here in Manchester – boasting tons of football memorabilia from over the years. Fun fact: my own dad’s fanzine lives in this very museum. Fans can explore 140,000 boots, balls, programmes, paintings, postcards and ceramics – each curated to tell the story of the beautiful game. Tickets can be booked here. National Football Museum, Urbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, M4 3BG.
3. Science and Industry Museum
The Science and Industry Museum is one of the most perfect museums for family days out in Manchester – taking guests on a trip to the Industrial Revolution and beyond. A period of time synonymous with Manchester’s history, the museum explores the ‘ideas that change the world’, showcasing cars and other inventions, Manchester’s cotton history and so much more. Tickets are free and you can book here. Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Rd, M3 4FP.
4. Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester
Got a thing for vintage vehicles? You’ll find plenty of them at the Museum of Transport. Telling the story of Manchester’s transport history, guests can explore retro buses from the 1930’s onwards, trams from the early 1900s, vintage signs, furniture and so much more – all in one place. Find out more about admission here. Museum of Transport, Boyle St, Cheetham Hill, M8 8UW.
5. People’s History Museum
Uncovering the story of the people of Britain, the People’s History Museum explore democracy throughout the years, from the heartfelt stories of refugees and asylum seekers, to the history of Labour and numerous trade unions. Learn more about figures such as Manchester’s very own Emmeline Pankhurst and other revolutionaries, while learning more about the moments in history that have brought us to where we are today. Entry is free and you can book a slot here. People’s History Museum, Left Bank, M3 3ER.
6. Manchester Jewish Museum
Residing in a former synagogue, the Manchester Jewish Museum honours the city’s Jewish community – not only keeping the beautiful synagogue in prime condition, but showcasing tens of thousands of historic items, too. The building is considered “one of the highlights of Victorian Gothic architecture in the country”, and you can see it for yourself seven days a week. Find out about admission here. Manchester Jewish Museum, 190 Cheetham Hill Rd, Cheetham Hill, M8 8LW.
7. Manchester Museum
Back after a big renovation, Manchester Museum reopened in February 2023 and features the Museum’s historic collections as well as new displays. Visitors can see works collected by the University of Manchester, the museum boasts stunning art created by the South Asian diaspora communities in the UK, alongside a space devoted to Chinese culture and so much more. There’s also a massive dinosaur display that you simply can’t miss!
8. Hat Works
Found inside one of Stockport’s most recognisable buildings (you know, given that it has ‘Hat Museum’ emblazoned on its huge chimney), Stockport’s Hat Museum is the first of its kind in the UK – putting a spotlight on the country’s formerly lavish hatting industry. There you can see the stunning Victorian mill, which now houses tons of millinery equipment once used to create the country’s hats. There’s a huge collection of vintage hats to discover, too, shedding light on fashions throughout the years. Hat Works Museum is currently closed as it undergoes a revamp.