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This International Museum Day, we thought we’d take some time to celebrate the incredible museums in Norwich and Norfolk. So, here’s our list of 7 great museums that we think you should check out.
All the museums listed are opening this month with safety measures in place to keep you and others safe. Remember to Know Before You Go and visit their websites for up-to-date information on opening times, safety precautions and more.
1. Norwich Castle
If you’re coming to Norwich, you can’t really miss the Castle. The imposing medieval fortification can be found right in the heart of the city. But it’s not just a pretty building. The fact there’s a museum and art gallery on the inside is just the cherry on top of the cake! Enter the castle and you’ll be pulled into a world of treasures. With significant objects from the region, archaeological finds and natural history specimens, there’s so much to discover.
This summer it’s the place to be, with three brilliant exhibitions on show. Bernardo Bellotto’s masterpiece, The Fortress of Königstein from the North, provides visitors with the opportunity to explore one of the most original and impressive examples of 18th-century landscape painting. Over 2 metres in length, and painted in c. 1756-8, it’s a breath-taking piece of work. On show from 17th May – 4th July.
A Passion for Landscape: Rediscovering John Crome (17th May – 5th September), celebrates the work of renowned Norwich artist, John Crome (1768-1821). Featuring approximately 90 works, including stunning landscapes of Norwich and Norfolk, the exhibition also marks 200 years since the artists death.
And on display from 17th May – 12th September is the Castle’s open art show; Somewhere Unexpected. 38 artists working in the region were selected to make up the exhibition, creating a stunning display of painting, print, photography, sculpture, and film.
All these exhibitions are free to see with a ticket to the Castle, which must be pre-booked online. Adults £6.70, children £6.30.
2. Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell
Exploring life in Norwich and the stories that make up the city’s history, the Museum of Norwich is a must for history buffs. There’s so much to see, from galleries and displays, to a recreated early 20th century chemists’ shop, and a restored, fully working 19th century loom!
You can also take a trip to the dark underworld of Norwich, as below the Bridewell lies the largest undercroft in the city. Part of the original medieval house, these rooms were used for storage and to hold inmates when the building was a prison. It’s open to the public for guided tours which usually take place on the last Saturday of each month, free with museum admission.
Don’t forget to pay a visit if you see A Passion for Landscape: Rediscovering John Crome at Norwich Castle, as the Museum of Norwich has an accompanying exhibit. Crome’s Norwich: 1821 – 2021 takes a closer look at the artist’s relationship with his home city, through the lens of photographer Nick Stone. The exhibit showcases a collection of images which blend Crome’s works with contemporary photography.
The museum opens again from 22nd May. Adults £6.70, children £6.20.
3. The South Asia Collection (Norwich City Centre)
A hidden gem in Norwich, The South Asia Collection is a museum that celebrates the arts, crafts, and cultures of South Asia. Located in the heart of Norwich on Bethel Street, it’s truly a wonder to behold. Housed in a restored Victorian skating rink, the building is Grade II listed and features a dramatic arched wooden roof.
While you’re there, pop into Country & Eastern, the museum shop for The South Asia Collection. With magnificent items big and small, it’s full to the brim of interesting and unusual finds. Plus, the collection and shop are free to enter!
4. Time and Tide Museum (Great Yarmouth, 21.7 miles from Norwich)
Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth takes you on an exiting journey into the past. Housed within a converted Victorian herring curing works, as you explore, you’ll learn of the towns rich maritime and fishing heritage and interesting history.
See inside a fisherman’s home, get a glimpse into the atmosphere of a 1950s quayside, and try not to get too scared by the tales of shipwrecks and rescues on the high seas.
And for fantasy fans, schedule a visit between 17th May and 27th June for May the Toys be With You. An incredible collection of over 300 Star Wars toys, original cinema posters and memorabilia – it’s brilliant for fans of all ages. The exhibition also looks at the iconic design and artwork of the Star Wars films, from X-Wing fighters to lightsabres.
Tickets must be pre-booked online. Adults £6.70, children £6.30.
5. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse (Dereham, 21.5 miles from Norwich)
Located in Dereham, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is a traditional working Norfolk farm, where you can learn all about rural life. See traditional farming techniques demonstrated, and wander round the farmhouse to get an idea of how farming families used to live.
Set in 50 acres of unspoilt countryside, the grounds include a lovely river valley, water meadows, woodland, and circular walks to take around the farm. It’s the perfect setting for a brilliant day outdoors this summer.
Outdoor and indoor exhibitions are open, although tickets must be booked in advance online. Adults £13.90, children £12.90.
6. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (Norwich)
Not just the home of the Avengers, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia has on show some of the most remarkable works of art assembled in the UK. From sculptures to paintings and even jewellery – there’s a fascinating range of beautiful objects to discover.
Once you’ve taken in the permanent collection housed inside, head out for The Sculpture Park. Set within 350 acres of parkland, the park includes important works by many notable artists such as Antony Gormley. Entry to The Sculpture Park and the permanent collection is free.
Tickets to exhibitions need to be booked in advance online. From 18th May – 22nd August, you can visit the Bill Brandt / Henry Moore exhibit. Taking a deeper look at the careers of two leading artists of the 20th century, tickets are £13 with 50% off for under 18’s.
7. Wroxham Miniature Worlds (The Broads, 8.3 miles from Norwich)
For something a little different, head to Wroxham Miniature Worlds. The largest indoor modelling attraction in the UK, that stretches a massive 10,000 square feet. There are several zones to investigate, from model railways (with some of the largest models in the world on permanent display!), to a whole city made of Lego and a vintage Penny Arcade!
With an onsite café and a toy shop, it’s great for a family day out. Children under 5 go free, children 5-15 £8.95 and adults £11.95.