Support the museums on your doorstep

Meet Me at the Museum podcast recording at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum with Edith Bowman and friend, photographer Kellee Quinn, 2020

Wherever you are right now, chances are there's a museum or gallery not too far away. To inspire you to explore your local venue, we've selected 10 gems across the UK.

While you may be familiar with the big national museums, have you had a chance to visit the ones on your doorstep?

The UK is jam-packed with brilliant museums, galleries and historic houses, ensuring that everyone can experience incredible art and culture and learn about their local history and collective heritage.

Local museums make for great days out with friends and family, while inspiring us to think more deeply about the places and people that live closest to us.

If you're looking for a hidden gem near you, take a look through our selection below, spotlighting 10 top picks across the UK – from a museum tucked away in a castle in Northern Ireland to a hub of contemporary art in Blackpool. And with a National Art Pass, you'll get great benefits at every venue.

Want to learn more about the importance of local museums? Check out this article by Tony Butler published in the spring edition of our membership magazine, Art Quarterly. And explore our full listings to discover even more museums near you.

Find a museum near you with an Art Pass

Aston Hall

Aston Hall

Explore 30 historic rooms filled with period furniture and important works of art in this 17th-century house that stands next to Aston Villa football stadium. Learn about the house's fascinating history, including the battle scars it still bears from the Civil War. And see how Aston Hall remains committed to serving local communities today, with a free art club for children and a display made in collaboration with local young people, recreating a young Black girl's dressing room, in celebration of the diaspora community.

Over 100 Years of Collecting at Laing Art Gallery

Laing Art Gallery

Founded in 1901 by a local businessman, the Laing Art Gallery boasts a significant permanent collection of British and European art. Highlights include its 18th- and 19th-century paintings by leading figures such as Joshua Reynolds, William Holman Hunt and Paul Gauguin. There's also a Northern Spirit gallery, spotlighting outstanding works of art and objects by local artists and craftsmen, including a stunning display of Newcastle silver and North East pottery. Don't miss their current exhibition Yevonde: Life and Colour, organised by London's National Portrait Gallery – and if you've got a National Art Pass, you'll get 50% off exhibition tickets.

Experience Barnsley

Experience Barnsley

Travel through time and learn about Barnsley's fascinating history, from the prehistoric era to today. Housed inside the Town Hall, the gallery holds an eclectic collection of objects, ranging from medieval jewellery to miners' canary cages, telling the stories of people who've lived and worked in Barnsley. Explore their temporary and community-curated exhibitions to get a deeper insight into the town's stories.

Visitors at Aloud by France-Lise McGurn, Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow International 2021, supported by Art Fund

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

This Spanish Baroque-style palace on the banks of the River Kelvin is a must for anyone looking for a culture-filled day in Glasgow. Marvel at 8,000 objects in their 22 themed galleries with wide-ranging collections, from natural history to outstanding works of art. Visiting with kids? The displays have been specially designed with children in mind, with lots of interactive activities that will keep younger ones entertained.

Cardiff Castle, Banqueting Hall

Cardiff Castle

Over 2,000 years, Cardiff Castle has evolved from a Roman fort and Norman stronghold into a Victorian Gothic Revival fantasy palace. Its Romanesque walls and tall towers are straight out of a fairytale, concealing its lavish interiors designed by architect William Burges in 1868. Marvel at the impressive craftsmanship throughout, from intricate mural paintings to colourful stained glass and opulent gilding.

Victoria Art Gallery, Upper Gallery

Victoria Art Gallery

Discover an impressive collection spanning 500 years of fine art, sculpture, ceramics and glass at Bath's Victoria Art Gallery, a Grade II listed building that opened in 1900 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It boasts over 1,500 items in its permanent collection, from 17th-century oil paintings by Thomas Gainsborough to contemporary works by Grayson Perry, which is displayed on rotation. Something you want to take a peek at but isn't on display? Don't miss their free monthly Art Store Tours, where a curator will take you behind the scenes to see where the collection is held.

Penlee House Gallery and Museum, visitor in the Art Gallery

Penlee House Gallery & Museum

Learn about the rich history and culture of west Cornwall at Penlee House Gallery & Museum. This Italianate villa, formerly a Victorian home, now puts on a changing programme of exhibitions that spotlight the people and artists who lived locally during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the notable Newlyn School artists. The museum's collection spans 6,000 years of history and includes important items relating to social history, archaeology and natural science. Please check with the gallery ahead of your visit as it closes in between exhibitions.

Colchester Castle interior

Colchester Castle

Do you dig archaeology? As Colchester was the first Roman capital of Britain, Colchester Castle was built on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius and remains the largest Norman keep in Europe. Plus, they have incredible archaeological collections covering 2,500 years of local history, from the Celtic kings and the Roman invasion to the Norman conquest and medieval life. With interactive displays and fun activities, including dressing up as an Iron Age Briton or steering a Roman chariot, it makes a great day out for families.

Chila Kumari Singh Burman, exterior commission at Grundy Art Gallery, 2020

Grundy Art Gallery

Housed in a Grade II listed building, the Grundy is a hub of contemporary art in Blackpool and offers an annual programme of temporary exhibitions spotlighting both established and emerging artists. In 2023 and for the first time, they hosted the New Contemporaries exhibition, a survey of early-career artists from UK art schools. Their collection holds over 2,000 items, including Victorian oil paintings, Blackpool souvenirs and major contemporary works by leading figures such as Chila Kumari Singh Burman, Tracey Emin, and Gilbert and George.

Displays within the Full Circle Art Gallery at Enniskillen Castle

Fermanagh County Museum

If you're fascinated by crannogs, castles and local craftsmanship, look no further than Fermanagh County Museum, situated inside the walls of Enniskillen Castle. The museum celebrates the county's rich history, rural traditions and lakelands heritage, revealing the lives of its earliest settlers and the medieval pilgrims who journeyed through Lough Erne. They also offer a changing programme of exhibitions, drawing from their impressive art collection with paintings by William Scott and rare porcelain items from local Belleek Pottery.

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

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.

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