Our favourite museum and gallery cafés
Gallery hopping can be hungry work. Fuel your day of art at these excellent museum cafés – whether you’re looking for breakfast or brunch to start your morning, or somewhere to relax after an exhibition.
If there’s one thing we love more than going to exhibitions, it’s those chats with friends afterwards in the café. What did they think? Where did you differ? How did it make you all feel?
To help inspire you, we’ve rounded up some of the best museum cafés in the National Art Pass network that are perfect for post-show analysis or as a pit-stop to keep you going.
Enjoy views over Walthamstow's Lloyd Park from the orangery-style café at William Morris Gallery, along with locally sourced bakes, brews and coffee. The café offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea – and they're fully licensed, so you can round off a trip to Morris's childhood home with a glass of wine or prosecco, or a beer from fellow Walthamstow favourites Wild Card Brewery.
Finding somewhere to relax near Euston station can be a challenge. Hooray, then, for the Wellcome Collection café – a bright and airy hub of chatter from visitors to the museum's exhibitions, and students from the nearby UCL and SOAS campuses. Tasty fare and excitable conversation away from the roar of traffic outside is bound to put a smile on your face.
With galleries, performance, film screenings and more, you could spend all day at Cardiff’s Chapter arts centre – so it’s a good thing their café takes you from morning to night, too. A hearty breakfast or brunch will set you right for the day, while there are lots of hot options on the lunch and evening menus to keep you toasty well into winter. They even do a Sunday roast.
With coffee from local roasters the Blending Room, soft and alcoholic drinks and local bakes, Humber Street Gallery café is a haven to huddle in when that east coast wind starts to bite. Keep that warm and fuzzy feeling going by joining a workshop or heading along to an exhibition preview to meet like-minded folk – and remember that nearby Ferens Art Gallery offers 20% off food and drink with a National Art Pass, too.
What could be cosier than vintage crockery, kindly donated by visitors to the Museum of English Rural Life? Enjoy a mix-and-match tea service in the MERL’s relaxing café, and try a Tregothan tea – the first ever English tea grown and blended in Cornwall – after exploring the museum’s collections about life and work in the English countryside.
If you’ve been hiking through the landscape at Runnymede and Ankerwycke in autumnal weather, you’ll be glad of the Magna Carta café – open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, no less. Once you’ve bundled back up, don’t forget to see Mark Wallinger’s serene installation Writ in Water, which was commissioned with Art Fund support.
Set in the Rossendale Valley, this Victorian house and charming museum is the perfect spot for some respite when you’ve been out braving the elements. Explore the natural and social history collections, catch a special exhibition and take stock of the day in the eatery and bar, serving brunch, lunch and Sunday roast. They run a good regular film night, too.
Tucked into Belfast’s cultural Cathedral Quarter, the MAC is the place to come for all-day inspiration – from contemporary exhibitions in the striking gallery spaces to special events and artist talks, and of course, a good old natter in the café bar over coffee or a pre-show deli board and wine menu.
The more you see, the more we do.
The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.