Must-Visit Museums in Norwich

18 August 2022

Must-visit museums in Norwich

If you’re a bit of a culture vulture, then make sure to swoop on some of the fantastic offerings right here in Norwich.

We’ve got the low-down on the best museums in Norwich, so read on to find out more and start planning your visit!

  1. Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
  2. Museum of Norwich
  3. Strangers’ Hall
  4. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
  5. The South Asia Collection

Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

Standing majestically on a hilltop high above the city, Norwich Castle is impossible to miss. The 900-year-old fortification is currently (2022) undergoing an exciting £11m transformation project titled Royal Palace Reborn. This will ensure, amongst other things, that the medieval floors and rooms in the Castle Keep are in keeping with their original design.

Wander inside and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you’ll find – a range of galleries featuring archaeological finds from the area, impressive natural history displays and fabulous fine and contemporary art.

See the impact light has on us and how we experience colour in different ways at the ongoing Lumen exhibition, which includes 25 works of art by such well-known artists as Andy Warhol, Bridge Riles and Patrick Hughes. Newly acquired works by Bruce Lacey and Eva Rothschild also feature.

The Castle frequently has multiple exhibitions to enjoy which are free to see with admission, which you can book online. Adults £7, children £6.

Norwich Castle celebrates Norwich Pride with a rainbow flag

Norwich Castle

Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell

See what life was like in Norwich during the 19th and 20th centuries at the Museum of Norwich. Visit a recreated chemist shop of the 1900s and marvel at the lotions and potions available at the time. Or, check out the shopping and trading gallery, where you’ll find a cart from Ladbrooke’s Dairy and Jack Shorten’s delivery bike – both of which were invaluable modes of transport in their day. You can also see first-hand the workings of a mid-1900s Jacquard loom and where you can picture yourself producing some of the finest silk fabric around at the time.

At ‘Made in Norwich’ in the Industrial section, you’ll find the iconic ironwork sunflower, designed by Thomas Jeckyll for Barnard, Bishop and Barnards. You can also explore the city’s heavy engineering, aircraft and textile heritage, as well as its food manufacturing in the form of mustard, chocolate and crackers.

Check out the sturdy snake-proof boot nurses wore in Burma during WW2 and the beautiful willow pattern exhibition shoe. At the same time, listen to employees describe their working lives in Norwich’s many shoe factories.

You can also book a tour of the building to learn more about its history. This involves visiting the vaulted undercroft beneath the Museum building itself – once a prison for the city’s criminals and debtors. Tours are on the first Saturday of each month and last an hour. Tickets – which include museum admission – should be booked in advance and cost £7 for adults and £6 for children.

The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell building

The Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell

Strangers’ Hall

Explore the rooms of Strangers’ Hall, including the sumptuous Georgian dining room or the 17th-century Sotherton Room with its replica meal featuring pike in gelatine and roast capon.

Venture upon a christening celebration in the Parlour, and while in the Great Chamber, remember to take a peek out the window to view the 17th-century-style knot garden – specifically designed to be viewed from above. Admission is £6.20 for adults and £5.30 for children.

Strangers Hall Bedroom

Strangers Hall Bedroom

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

From stunning paintings to rare art and spectacular jewellery, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia is always worth exploring – whether inside or out. Inside you’ll find the fabulously enticing permanent collections and new exhibitions. Outside there’s the mesmerising Sculpture Park where you’ll find celebrated works by the likes of Antony Gormley, Henry Moore and Elisabeth Frink. And best of all – The Sainsbury Centre is free to visit! (One-off exhibitions are priced individually).

The Anthony Caro Goodwood Steps (a large outdoor sculpture) at The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park

The Anthony Caro Goodwood Steps at The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Sculpture Park

The South Asia Collection

Set in a restored Victorian roller-skating rink, complete with an arched wooden roof, The South Asia Collection is a delight to wander through. You’ll discover beautiful copper and brass works from Lahore and jewellery from the Naga people depicting their warrior status. There are numerous arts and crafts from South Asia to admire in the Collection – not just from India but also Pakistan, Thailand, Java and Bali.

You can take home some memories yourself from the museum shop Country & Eastern. Both The South Asia Collection and the shop have free admission.

The South Asia Collection upper floor displays, which showcases a range of fascinating pieces

The South Asia Collection in Norwich which houses a range of fascinating pieces