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A museum set among beautiful gardens and showcasing several lifetime's of Yorkshire history

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Archaeology Section
Astronomy Section
Biology Section
Geology Section
Museum Building
Museum Gardens
Special Exhibitions
When the Yorkshire Museum's builders laid their final brick, George IV was still King of England, and organised rail travel was only just being invented. It stands on the former site of St Mary's Abbey, the medieval remains of which can still be seen on the museum's lower floor.
It was a long time ago, but now, nearly two centuries later, not only is the building still standing - it's also still using its comprehensive collection to teach the public about a lifetime of Yorkshire history. This makes it one of the oldest museums in the entire country, and in fact, the displays here have been described as of national and international importance.

The front of the Yorkshire Museum
The Museum's exhibits are split into four different sections. First, the Biology area boasts over 200,000 different specimens, including several examples of animals which are now extinct. Next, the Geology section shows off all kinds of rocks, including fossils, gems, and meteorites. The Astronomy department, meanwhile, includes the county's oldest working observatory. It also has the observatory's clock, which kept perfect time by checking the positions of the stars. In the 19th century, the clock was York's equivalent to Greenwich - although oddly, it was always 4 minutes and 20 seconds behind. Yorkshiremen were charged a sixpence to come and set their watches to the correct time.

Inside the Yorkshire Museum
Photo craig booth
The last section in the museum is Archaeology - the collection here is edging towards a massive one million objects. There are countless interesting artefacts, but the undoubted frontrunner is the Middleham jewel discovered by a man called Ted Seaton, in 1985. Ted was exploring the local area, hoping to find something with his metal detector. But instead of the usual coins and bottle caps, he found an intricately detailed pendant, embedded with a perfect sapphire. He must have known he'd gotten lucky, but he couldn't have predicted just how lucky. When it went to auction, the pendant earned him 1.3 million pounds. There were even rumours that the buyer was part of the royal family! Several years later, it was put up for auction again - and Yorkshire Museum bought it, for a staggering 2.5 million pounds.
These four collections have always been popular, but recently, there have been plans to update the buildings, and the presentation of its contents. Walls will be stripped out to make more open spaces, skylights will be added to make use of the natural light, and the entire basement level will be converted into another exhibition area. The displays will be rearranged into three specifics sections, focusing on extinct animals, the Romans, and the city of York itself. These will all surround one central hall area, which will greet visitors with an imposing, life-size statue of Mars, the Roman war god.

The museum is surrounded by the Museum Gardens
Photo Thunderchild tm
The Yorkshire Museum's building is unusual in that it is still used for its original purpose, and these ambitious renovations will ensure that its wonderful collections can continue to delight a new generation of visitors in the 21st century.
Visitor Information
The Yorkshire Museum is open daily 10am to 5pm. Entry costs around £5. Tel: 01904 687687

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