Best 10 Museums in Manchester

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Front of the IVY restaurant in Manchester together with large sign saying WE LOVE YOU MANCHESTER,Surya%20Prasad,-on%20Unsplash

This thriving Northern city is packed with a diverse array of good museums. It celebrates all that the city is and was from its industrial heritage to football, fashion, music, transport, and art – it certainly has something for all, young and old. Many of the museums are centrally located in Manchester’s city centre, or accessible by public transport, and the majority are free or have free sections. So whether you’re looking to soak up some history and culture or need to keep the children occupied during a wet half term break, read’s pick of Manchester’s best museums…


Outside shot of the Imperial War Museum Manchester.  Grey shiny curved buildings against a blue sky.
IWM Manchester

IWM North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ

The Imperial War Museum is set in an architectural building to the east of the city and easily reachable by tram, car, or bus. Like its sister museum in London, IWM is focused on telling the story of conflict and its effect on the world and societies.  There are some impactful permanent museums including walking through a timeline of history from the First World War to the present day.  You can also explore a vast collection of over 2,000 objects - from the First World War field gun that fired the opening British round on the Western Front, to the twisted rust-ridden steelwork retrieved from the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York.  More information on the museum’s exhibitions and installations can be found here


The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm and free to enter.

People’s History Museum

Inside the people's history museum. 4 Large hanging banners Workers Union flags in red and green
People's Museum

Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER

The People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy telling the story of its development in Britain, past and future.  The main idea behind the museum is to create a fairer world for everyone.  Its collections and stories are curated to show a wide range of authentic narratives, and most are free to the public.    Each section of the gallery has a different background colour, for example: red for courage, green for reform, blue for loyalty, pink for peace etc.   As you’d expect, their stories are varied. You can switch from learning about the Peterloo Massacre, the growth of the trade union movement, to Britain’s main political parties.   We think it’s a fascinating museum and one that’s definitely worth a visit.

Science + Industry Museum

Science + Industry museum sign on a tall red piece of ironwork
Science and Industry Museum

Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP.

One of Manchester’s most popular museums occupies a large disused railway space in the Castlefield area of the city centre.  Whilst the site is currently undergoing extensive renovation works to its old heritage buildings, the ‘New’ Warehouse still houses three permanent galleries - Revolution Manchester, the Textiles Gallery and Experiment - as well as two temporary exhibition spaces, including the Special Exhibitions Gallery.  There is also a packed roster of events and special exhibitions to enjoy in the surrounding buildings whilst the restoration work continues, including a visionary £4.3M de-carbonisation project – making this museum a leading sustainable museum of the future.

Entry is free and it’s open daily 10 – 5pm.

Greater Manchester Police Museum

Mock-up of a wooden court room complete with docks and judges bench
Greater Manchester Police Museum

57a Newton Street, Manchester M1 1ET

This fascinating museum in the city centre was founded in 1981. It’s free and funded by Greater Manchester Police and collects and preserves archive material and objects relating to the history of policing in the Greater Manchester area.  It’s a great museum for children who can see inside a prison cell, a crime room, and a court room mock-up.

The museum also acts as an important resource for community police engagement and a records office that holds primary and secondary source information about the history and development of policing.

Worth noting, the museum’s free and currently open every Tuesday from 10.30 – 4pm

National Football Museum

Outside the all glass museum. Large sign saying National Football Museum, Drame, history, skill, art, faith, style, passion, football
Manchester Football Museum

Urbis Building Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG

Manchester is no stranger to footballing history and success and it’s fitting that it should host England's national museum which celebrates everything about the sport. The museum is based in the Urbis building in Manchester city centre and is custodian of the world’s largest public collection of football objects and archives, known as the Football Heritage Collection and holds over 40,000 items.  2500 of these are on display at the museum to help us share stories about football – including artwork, toys, clothing, photos, games and memorabilia.  You can also watch hours of filmed interviews. A varied events’ schedule changes throughout the year which you can keep an eye on here

The museum is open daily from 10-5pm and the great news is that if you live in Manchester, the museum is free. For everyone else, it’s best to book online for the cheapest prices.

Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester

Inside the Transport museum. Rows of different coloured Morris Minors and old coloured buses in the background
Transport Museum, Manchester

At the top end of Boyle Street - M8 8UW

As the birthplace of the industrial revolution, the North West has a fascinating industrial history, with Greater Manchester playing a key role in many industrial developments - including the expansion and improvement of transport services. From the world’s first passenger railway to one of the busiest UK light rail systems, Greater Manchester’s transport achievements have shaped transportation networks across the globe.  The museum pays homage to these with over 70 buses, trams, coaches, and other vehicles on display, some of which you can go inside. There’s also a packed schedule of events and exhibitions planned across the year including a Morris Minor Show and Classic Car show. Keep an eye on what's on here  

The museum is open on Wednesdays and weekends all year from 10 – 4.30pm.


Outside shot of the orange bricked Georgian building
Pankhurst Trust

60-62 Nelson St, Manchester M13 9WP

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and her family lived at number 62 Nelson Street from 1898 until 1907. It was also the first meeting of the movement that became known as the suffragettes which took place in the parlour of the house. It’s the only museum dedicated to telling the story of women’s fight for the right to vote.    The building proudly continues the fight for women’s equality today as the headquarters of Manchester Women’s Aid. It provides confidential services to victims of domestic abuse, and as a women's drop-in centre, children’s centre, supports women’s activism in Manchester and the local community. 

Tickets are free and the museum’s open weekly on a Thursday and Sunday.

Chetham’s Library

Inside the dark wood library loaded with books on shelves. Long haired lady standing in the foreground.
Cheetham's Library

Chetham’s Library, Long Millgate, Manchester M3 1SB

Manchester is proud to be the home of the oldest public library not only in the UK but in the English speaking world.  What an accolade!   Founded in 1853, the beautiful dark wood interior holds a fine collection of early printed books, including a wealth of ephemera, manuscript diaries, letters and deeds, prints, paintings and glass lantern slides.

You can take a guided tour of the library by pre-booking a tour. They run on weekdays only as it shares the space with the Chetham’s prestigious School of Music.

You can book a ticket here and they cost between £5.50 and £11. If you just want to sit down and look at one of the library’s books, you’ll need to book an appointment anytime between these hours - Monday to Friday 9am-12.30pm and 1.30-4.30pm by prior appointment

Hat Works Museum

Hat machinery
Hat Museum

Hat Works Museum, Wellington Road South, Stockport SK3 0EU

In the late 19th Century wearing a hat was all the rage and Stockport became the epicentre of hat making and prosperoued on the back of it. Hat works, in the centre of Stockport, is a museum dedicated to the history of hat making and the skilled workers who made them.   The ground floor of the museum introduces fur felt hat-making which began in the Stockport area from the 17th century. The museum also introduces mechanisation of the hatting industry and visitors can walk through the back kitchen of a small terraced house to see how a worker might have lived in the late 19th century when hatting became an urban occupation.

It's well worth a visit. The factory floor is only open for booked tours which you can check out here.

Jewish Museum

Outside shot of the Jewish Museum at night time. The museum is lit up to show the ornate engraving of the new building attached to the original old building
Jewish Museum

Manchester Jewish Museum, 190 Cheetham Hill Road Manchester M8 8LW

The Jewish Museum in Manchester is 150 years old.  It’s recently been redeveloped and extended to win a prestigious Architecture award.   The museum includes a modern gallery, vegetarian café, shop and learning studio & kitchen as well as the beautifully restored synagogue, now part of the permanent exhibition.   It holds over 31,000 items including over 130 recorded interviews with holocaust survivors and refugees, over 20,000 photographs and documents. It also runs a packed programme of interesting events and includes - The Jewish Culture Club which is running a talk with the incredible street photographer Peter Stein, a printmaking workshop and music nights. Check out their website for full details

The museum is open 7 days a week for general admission, they also take group bookings.