York Museums Trust was formed on August 1 2002, as an independent charitable trust to manage the museums and gallery service previously run by City of York Council. Supported by the Council, York Museums Trust is responsible for York Art Gallery, York Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum and Gardens and York St Mary’s. All the venues were previously managed by City of York Council, which still owns all the buildings and collections and has agreed to long-term funding of the Trust.
York Museums Trust’s Mission is to cherish the collections, buildings and gardens entrusted to us, presenting and interpreting them as a stimulus for learning, a provocation to curiosity and a source of inspiration and enjoyment for all.
York Art Gallery
Built in 1879 as the venue for the second Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, the building was purchased by the local authority and re-opened as York Art Gallery in 1892. Since that time, York Art Gallery has developed an outstanding collection of paintings that range from 14th century Western European painting through to 20th century British work. In addition, the gallery houses important collections of 20th century ceramics donated by the Dean Eric Milner-White, WA Ismay, Henry Rothschild and lent by Anthony Shaw.
York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum was founded by Dr John Kirk, a doctor from Pickering, North Yorkshire, and houses his extraordinary collection of social history, reflecting everyday life in the county. One of its renowned displays is the reconstructed street, Kirkgate, that has been hugely influential in museum displays worldwide. The York Castle Museum is housed in a former debtors’ prison and an adjoining former women’s prison, both of which are Grade I listed. The museum’s name comes from the fact it stands on the site of the former York Castle.
Yorkshire Museum and the Museum Gardens
The Yorkshire Museum is set in ten acres of Museum Gardens, both of which were founded in the 1830s by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. The Yorkshire Museum currently houses the archaeological, geological and natural history collections and the recently acquired WA Ismay Collection of ceramics. Within the Museum Gardens are the ruins of the 13th century St Mary’s Abbey, a medieval Hospitium and guest lodge and a 19th century Observatory. All of the buildings are listed and the gardens are a registered garden of special scientific interest.
York St Mary’s
St Mary’s Castlegate is a deconsecrated medieval parish church on Castlegate (close to Jorvik). The bulk of the building dates to the early 13th century, with 14th and 15th century modifications and alterations. York Museums Trust have transformed this hallowed space into a unique venue for experiencing cutting edge contemporary art.
Our Vision is for York Museums Trust to play a major part in positioning York as a world class cultural centre.
Our Mission is to cherish the collections, buildings and gardens entrusted to us, presenting and interpreting them as a stimulus for learning, a provocation to curiosity and a source of inspiration and enjoyment for all.
Our objectives are:
To protect and conserve the collections, gardens and buildings.
To promote access to the collections, gardens and buildings appropriate to the 21st Century.
To attract more visitors to our sites, thus contributing to the local and regional economy.
To create learning opportunities for all and develop innovative programmes springing from the collections, gardens and buildings.
To network and collaborate with partners and contribute to the development of the economic and cultural life of the city and the region.
To raise substantial funds to realise these aims.
The collections cover a vast array of subjects, probably the best known are social history, archaeology and fine art.
York Museums Trust is proud to be one of just a handful of regional museum services in the country which has had every single one of its collections designated by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
The scheme celebrates and promotes England’s most important and culturally valuable collections so that they can be fully enjoyed by many generations to come.