How did York Castle Museum start?

York Castle Museum was initially built to display the collection of a medical doctor who was a keen collector of historical objects named Dr Kirk. He built his collection throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Dr. Kirk had a passion for history and collected objects whilst travelling through Yorkshire. Furthermore, he sometimes accepted these objects as payment for the medical services he would perform. Dr. Kirk gave his collection to York in 1935. Then in 1938, construction on the area of York Castle was completed. The museum first opened with a design to immerse visitors in the past through displaying objects in the context of their historical use. York Castle Museum continues to operate with this design to this day.  You can buy tickets for York Castle Museum through the link below.

What is there to do at York Castle Museum?

Visitors can enjoy many historic exhibits designed to transport you to the past, including:

  • The Period Rooms – peek at sets showing how rooms in the home have looked throughout history
  • Toy Stories – a collection of toys through time and how they have changed
  • Shaping the Body – collections of objects from fashion, food and lifestyle throughout history
  • Kirkgate – a Victorian street with shop fronts and buildings designed on real shops in York in the late Victorian era and filled with real objects from this time
  • WW1 exhibit – includes in the trenches, home front and after the war sections, and you can follow four people’s stories throughout
  • 60s exhibit – a display of all things 60s including fashion, art and social history
  • York Castle Prison – look around prison cells of the Debtors’ Prison and watch the stories of real life prisoners including Dick Turpin

The museum also has a café and gift shop for visitors to enjoy near the main entrance.

For more information about a day out at York Castle Museum click here.


York Castle Museum has three floors with quite a few stairways to navigate as you go round the museums. There is a lift which allows access to half the building. Exhibits above ground floor on the other half of the museum are currently not accessible via a lift. Subsequently, visitors requiring a lift will not be able to access the Period Rooms, Toy Stories or Shaping The Body exhibits. Reduced entrance fee is offered for disabled visitors who are restricted by this. Additionally, the museum has a limited supply of wheelchairs and walking sticks which visitors can borrow whilst in the museum.

In terms of parking, there is blue badge parking on the road outside the museum for up to 3 hours. If you wish to explore the museum for longer than this, there is the Castle carpark nearby with 30 blue badge bays.

Noise levels at the museum can vary depending on the time you choose to visit. For visitors requiring a quieter or less busy environment, it is recommended to visit after 3pm on a weekday or on a Sunday. However, there is no dedicated quiet visiting time.  Additionally, there is a brief flashing lightning effect on the Victorian street with noise. The museum has a limited supply of sensory baskets offered on the Kirkgate Victorian street which you can ask members of staff for. Also, the reception has two pairs of ear defenders which visitors can borrow. For visually interactive elements of the museum, 80% of these have subtitles.

For more information about days out in York and their accessibility visit Eric Knows website.


When booking York Castle Museum tickets, click here to prebook and avoid any potential queues.


Q Is there parking available nearby?

Q Can I pre-book my admission ticket?

Q Are dogs allowed in the museum?

Q Are pushchairs allowed in the museum?

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  • Monday11:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Tuesday10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Wednesday10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Thursday10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Friday10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Saturday10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
  • Sunday10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
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