Museums and galleries

Our local museums and galleries are an obvious port of call in poor weather and each has a distinctive tale to tell. A wander through a Victorian pharmacy, a chat with a blacksmith, an encounter with dinosaurs - the National Park's array of cultural, natural and historic collections means a date with history is never dull.

We’ve picked out ten museums and galleries with links to more information about their accessibility so you can make an informed decision about a visit. We recommend contacting individual venues to check their suitability for your individual needs or if you have any concerns.

We’ve got more ideas on accessible attractions, getting active outside, simply getting back to nature plus seven fabulous experiences you won't want to miss.

1. Beck Isle Museum

Beck Isle Museum Credit Olivia Brabbs Photography

Beck Isle Museum is found in the handsome Regency residence of William Marshall, a leading agriculturalist of his time. It was in this house that he founded England’s first agricultural College in the early 1800s. It’s a treasure trove, with period rooms shining a light on 200 years of local history, illustrating the work, social life and customs of rural communities.

  • There is ramped access to the museum entrance, which is wheelchair accessible on the ground floor.
  • Outside, the yard has level/ramped access throughout including into the smithy, wheelwright's workshop, stable and ironmonger's shop.
  • The galleries above these workshops are accessible via a platform stairlift.
  • The upstairs of the house is only accessible by a flight of stairs. A video tour is available of this floor’s displays.
  • There are accessible toilets.
  • Friday and Saturday afternoons are recommended as quiet times for a visit, though please ring ahead to check.
  • All tickets give one year’s unlimited admission and they offer a complimentary ticket policy for carers.

Read Euan's Guide to Beck Isle Museum

2. Captain Cook Museum

Visit this Museum in Whitby where the young James Cook came to serve his seaman's apprenticeship. This handsome 17th century house belonged to Cook's master, the Quaker shipowner, John Walker. It was here that the family lodged their apprentices when not at sea serving the London coal trade. The Museum's rich collections celebrate his astonishing achievements and the work of those who sailed with him - sailors, scientists and artists.

The Museum is housed in a Grade 1 listed building, built in 1688 on four floors with lots of small rooms.

  • Short ramps connect the differing levels of the street entrance, the courtyard and the ground floor rooms.
  • There is a lift for wheelchair users to access the first floor. A DVD is available to view covering the upper floors and attic which is updated annually to show the year's special exhibition.
  • There is an accessible toilet.

Find out more about the Museum's accessibility

3. Eden Camp

Event at Eden Camp Living Museum Credit Eden Camp

Relive the days of World War II at the old prisoner-of-war camp just outside Malton, whose fascinating display huts are fully accessible, all on one level, with no steps or lifts. Just remember to wrap up warm in winter, as most of the huts aren’t heated. There’s a lot to read and experience, from personal testimonies to battle tanks, making this a must for anyone interested in military or social history.

  • There are braille sheets and audio guides (currently being revamped) available,
  • There are accessible toilets.
  • Accompanying carers can gain free access to the Museum with valid ID.

There's more accessibility information on the Eden Camp website

Interior of Inspired by... gallery with seating Credit Paul D Hunter

The contemporary Inspired by… gallery at Danby Lodge National Park Centre hosts changing exhibitions of work by artists and makers who draw their inspiration from the landscape, life and colour of the North York Moors, along with an exciting programme of talks, walks, demonstrations and more throughout the year. Don't forget to peruse the gallery shop with unique and beautiful paintings, ceramics, jewellery and more.

  • Exhibitions at the gallery are fully accessible by wheelchair and mobility scooter.
  • There’s an accessible toilet inside the gallery, which includes changing facilities, and a RADAR - accessible toilet outside to the rear of the café.
  • One electric scooter and one manual wheelchair are available free of charge for use in the gallery and National Park Centre.
  • Many of our events – including creative workshops – are wheelchair accessible. Our creative courses explore everything from dramatic landscape photography and ceramics, to creating colourful textile pieces and painting workshops.

Read Danby Lodge National Park Centre's accessibility guide

5. Land of Iron Museum

Interior of Land of Iron museum Credit Land of Iron

The Land of Iron Museum is based within the original mine buildings of the old Loftus mine and offers an authentic underground experience. It celebrates the rich industrial heritage of ironstone working and the social history which supported it within the region, including the North York Moors. Don your hardhat and venture inside the mine with an experienced guide leading the way. An interactive exhibition highlights amazing artefacts too. Mine workings are cool 10c, fleece or warm clothing advisable.

  • Accessible parking outside the entrance at the rear of the building provides level access into the museum.
  • Access to the North Drift of the old mine is via a steeply inclined ramp of approximately 8.5m. Museum volunteers will provide assistance if needed.
  • The tour is unsuitable for those in large, motorised mobility scooters. However, two hand-propelled wheelchairs are available for loan.
  • Carers are admitted to the Museum free of charge.
  • Accessible toilet facilities on site.

Find out more about the Land of Iron Museum's accessibility

6. Kirkleatham Museum

Steel Stories exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum

Kirkleatham Museum is a free local history museum, waiting to be discovered. Hosted within a magnificent 1710 Queen Anne building, the museum is a treasure trove of artefacts and exhibitions. It features a wide range of semi-permanent displays covering local and social history, World War 1 and the region’s steel and industrial heritage. The renowned Saxon Princess Exhibition is a stunning showcase of some of the finest Anglo Saxon finds from Northern England. The museum also has a programme of changing exhibitions and associated events and activities especially in the school holidays.

  • The site is generally flat, with gentle ramps at the ends of pathways which makes it ideal for wheelchair users.
  • Displays and exhibitions occupy all three floors of the Museum, all of which are accessible via the Ground Floor lift.
  • Accessible public toilets and baby changing facilities are located on the Ground Floor.
  • They have a quiet hour every Sunday between 10am and 11am when there are fewer visitors and the sounds are turned down.
  • Check out their excellent visual story before you visit.

Download Kirkleatham Museum's Accessibility Policy

7. Rotunda Museum

Exterior of Rotunda Museum

Opened in 1829, the Rotunda Museum is one of the world’s first purpose-built museums and was built to a design suggested by William Smith – the ‘Father of English Geology’. The museum displays archaeological finds including those from the internationally important Mesolithic site at Star Carr and you can also learn about dinosaur footprints and fossils.

  • The Rotunda is fully wheelchair accessible with a large lift in the centre of the building.
  • There are audio descriptions for some exhibits and temporary exhibitions.
  • There is an accessible toilet with baby changing facilities.
  • Check out the visual story before you visit; a sensory map is also available.
  • An Annual Pass for £3 allows entry to both the Rotunda Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery for a year. Registered carers and under 18s visit for free.

Read more accessibility information about the Rotunda Museum

8. Ryedale Folk Museum

Man and woman taking a selfie in front of a model village in Ryedale Folk Museum, man in a wheelchair Credit VisitBritain/Peter Kindersley

Discover rural life at the open-air Ryedale Folk Museum and explore over 20 historic buildings from the Iron Age to the 1950s, set on a gently sloping six-acre site. Exploring them with give an authentic taste of life in the North York Moors, as these rescued and restored buildings chart the changes in rural life. Discover what the gardens of mediaeval crofters would have looked and smelt like, and enter the workshops of the cobbler, cooper and blacksmith.

It also has a contemporary Art Gallery, which is free to visit, with a changing programme of art exhibitions throughout the year.

  • The entrance has level access. All buildings have ground floor access and the majority are step free.
  • Outside some of the paths through these spaces may be uneven or narrow, in which case they can be enjoyed from the adjoining walkway.
  • Mobility scooters and wheelchairs are available free of charge; booking in advance is recommended.
  • Carers and people with visual impairments are admitted free of charge.
  • Accessible toilets are found in the entrance building and in the High Barn Exhibition building.
  • There is a drop-off point at the main entrance. Accessible parking is at our nearby National Park car park.
  • Take a virtual tour of the Museum before you visit.

Read Ryedale Folk Museum's Accessibility Guide

Exterior of Scarborough Art Gallery Credit Scarborough Museums Trust

Scarborough Art Gallery, an Italianate villa built in the 1840s as part of The Crescent, houses the area's fine art collection and tells the story of Scarborough. It features beautiful paintings and sculptures. It has a lively temporary exhibition programme that features contemporary work by professional artists. The exhibition programme is accompanied by events, talks and activities for families.

Two minutes away is Woodend Gallery, a gallery and creative industries hub open to the public. Visit Woodend Gallery for a temporary exhibition programme curated by Crescent Arts.

  • There is level access to Scarborough Art Gallery. It only has partial wheelchair access. The ground floor gallery spaces are accessible but there is no lift access to the first floor exhibitions where the toilets are also located. Accessible toilets are available at Woodend, the building next door.
  • An Annual Pass for £3 allows entry to both Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year. Registered carers and under 18s visit for free.
  • Woodend is also home to Sitwell by Eat Me café, which is wheelchair accessible.
  • Check out Scarborough Art Gallery's visual story before you visit; a sensory map is available.

There's more accessibility information on the Scarborough Art Gallery website

Tempest Prognost close up in Whitby Museum

Whitby Museum explores Whitby's strong links with shipping and the sea as well as collections from across the North York Moors National Park illustrating examples of the rich history and geology from prehistoric times to the present day. A number of galleries explore carved jet, photography, archaeology, geology and fossils as well as an extensive costume collection. Plus a series of exhibitions chart the exploits of the two famous mariners 'Captain James Cook' and 'Captain William Scoresby' who are strongly connected with the town.

Pannett Art Gallery, which shares a building with the Museum, has an eclectic mix of 19th and 20th Century paintings on permanent display and is also well known for its outstanding collection from The Staithes Group of Artists.

  • There is level access at the rear of the building which gives access to both the museum and art gallery.
  • The main museum hall and art gallery are all on one level.
  • The new extension is on three levels and is served both by stairs and a lift.
  • There is an on-site tearoom, which is on the lower floor of the new wing and can be accessed by the lift.
  • A wheelchair is available to hire free of charge, booking recommended.
  • There are three accessible toilets.
  • Registered carers are admitted free of charge.

Read more about Whitby Museum's accessibility

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