history museums in Norfolk
You are here:    UK  >  East England  >  Norfolk  >  Attractions  >  Museums & Galleries
Surrounding Area Lincolnshire Surrounding Area Cambridgeshire Surrounding Area Suffolk Map of norfolk

Norfolk Museums & Galleries

including civic and independent art galleries and museums in Norfolk...

Museums long ago ceased to be stuffy rooms full of glass cases containing bits of old pottery and fossilised bones. Today even most conventional museums include changing displays but over recent years there has been a growth in industrial and "living" museums. Here you can learn about local heritage, get a feel for how people lived and worked, the hardships they endured...

Galleries listed include not just civic galleries displaying publicly owned artworks, but also privately owned galleries with items for sale.

Norfolk Museums and Galleries

blank tabNORFOLK MOTORCYCLE MUSEUMMuseums & Galleries
Norwich Road, North Walsham, Norfolk, NR28 0DS
Establishment Photo
Norfolk Motorcycle Museum will give you an insight into the history of the motorcycle industry. Pre-war motorbikes are a rare sight considering the numbers that were produced in the 20's and 30's. One of the main reasons for their rarity was the wartime demand for metals. To help towards the war effort motorcycles from scrap yards and those not in use were given, along with pots and pans, railings and the like, to be recycled for the production of armaments. Some of course did survive to become collectors items. There are probably a few hidden in sheds, outbuildings and barns yet to be discovered. The Norfolk Motorcycle Museum has an ongoing policy of restoration and repair, and an ever watchful eye for interesting new additions to the collection. The Museum welcomes donations of machines, memorabilia and any other support, all of which will be fully appreciated and acknowledged.
Back to top

Elizabethan House Museum

4 South Quay, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR30 2QH
Tel: 01493 855746    Fax: 01493 745459
E-mail: yarmouth.museums@norfolk.gov.uk

Great Yarmouth Photo © Katy Appleton
Great Yarmouth  -
Photo: Katy Appleton CCL


Museum of domestic life in a 16th-century house.

Behind the later façade lies a building dating from 1596, with rooms now displayed to reflect the lives of the families who have lived here through history.

Of particular interest are a Tudor bedroom and dining-room, Victorian kitchen, scullery and parlour, and the Conspiracy Room, where the trial and execution of King Charles I were allegedly plotted.

There is also a special children’s room with replica toys, and hands-on activities throughout the house.

Grey Rule

Museum of the Broads

Poor's Staithe, The Staithe, Stalham, Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 9DA
Tel: 01692 581681         E-mail: info@museumofthebroads.co.uk

The Broads, one of England's unique landscapes, was formed by medieval peat diggings which became shallow lakes. Today they are a haven for both wildlife and holidaymakers, but behind the tourist industry lies a myriad of traditional ways of working and living. Situated in a range of traditional storage buildings and boat sheds, near the busy market town of Stalham it complements the picturesque staithe on which it stands and presents a vista of the dyke it surveys.

Grey Rule

Diss Museum

11 Market Hill, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4JZ
Tel: 01379 650618       E-mail: dissmuseum@lineone.net

Diss Museum is located in the quaint Old Shambles building in the central Market Place. This intimate but informative museum of local life presents a fascinating collection of artefacts and displays relating to Diss itself and the surrounding East Anglian countryside over the years. Exhibitions change on a regular basis, and Friends of the Museum provide informed stewardship during opening hours - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Entry is free. The Museum's Curator is always happy to arrange for special conducted party visits by schools, organisations, clubs or other interested groups, which may take place at any suitable time by prior arrangement.

Grey Rule

The R.A.F Air Defence Radar Museum

Neatishead, Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 8YB
Tel: 01692 633309    Fax: 01692 633214
E-mail: feedback@bullshead.prestel.co.uk       Web: www.neatishead.raf.mod.uk

Apart from its importance in the air defence of this country since 1938, radar significantly contributed to the success of all the Allied invasions of World War II, the defence of the Commonwealth, Air Defence during the Cold War and relatively modern conflicts such as the Falklands War of 1982. The Royal Air Force Air Defence Radar Museum can show you how radar effects the lives of everyone, everywhere. The Museum, housed in the original 1942 Radar Operations building, features 16 exhibit rooms which include: Battle of Britain, 1942 Ground Controlled Interception, Radar Engineering, Military Communications Systems, Cold War Operations Room, Royal Observer Corps, Space Defence, Bloodhound Missiles, Original Mobile Radar Vehicles. The guided tour lasts around 2 hours. A visit to the award winning RAF Air Defence Radar Museum will be both informative and entertaining.

Grey Rule

Glandford Shell Museum

Church House, Glandford, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 7JR
Tel: 01263 740081        Web: www.shellmuseum.org.uk

The original purpose of the museum was to house a collection of shells made over a period of sixty years by the late Sir Alfred Jodrell himself and stored in boxes at Bayfield Hall until the museum was built. After completion Sir Alfred and his sisters, Lady Seale, and Mrs Ind arranged the whole of the shells in their cases. These shells come from all corners of the earth, and the collection is being constantly added to. There are shells of every hue - shells as delicately coloured as butterfly wings: shells exquisitely carved. But there are other exhibits besides the shells which form the main collection. There are lovely jewels, fragments of old pottery, a piece of Pompeii, a sugar bowl used by Queen Elizabeth I, some very fine specimens of agate ware, and a collection of items uncovered in the vicinity of Glandford including a very exceptional axehead. There is also an evocative tapestry executed by a local fisherman, John Craske, depicting the North Norfolk Coast.

Grey Rule

Thetford Ancient House Museum

21 White Hart St, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 1AD
Tel: 01842 752599       E-mail: ancient.house@norfolk.gov.uk
Web: www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

This magnificent timber framed Tudor merchant's house was built about 1490, with an extension added about 1590. The house is jettied and timber-framed, using oak, with wattle and daub in-fill with a fine carved ceiling and fireplace timbers. Here you can discover Thetford's connection with an Indian Prince, the Maharajah Duleep Singh. The museum, founded by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, the Maharajah's second son, displays a range of original family photographs and items from the family’s collections. Or you might marvel at the wealth of the Thetford Treasure, a hoard of late Roman jewellery and spoons and one of the area’s most dramatic finds of recent years. The Ancient House Museum displays a selection of replicas of the Treasure made by Peter Shorer, copied from the originals at the British Museum. And there are displays about about Thetford’s most famous son, Thomas Paine, the remarkable political writer and radical thinkers of the eighteenth century, who played an important role in the American War of Independence. Allow about 1 hour per visit.

Grey Rule

Cromer Museum

East Cottages, Tucker St, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9HB
Tel: 01263 513543       E-mail: cromer.museum@norfolk.gov.uk

The people, natural history and geology of the area really come to life in this row of former fishermen's cottages. Enter the furnished 1890s home of a local fishing couple. Find out about Henry Blogg's famous lifeboat rescues, crab fishing, and genteel holidays in Victorian 'Poppyland', with bathing machines and costumes from neck to knee by law. The atmosphere is 'cottagy' and the displays simple and straightforward. Through the museum's new computerised information base, visitors can access many of the museum's huge collection of historic photographs and illustrations of local people and places. Copying service available for a small charge.

Grey Rule

Bygones Museum

Holkham Park, Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk, NR23 1RS
Tel: 01803 326108        E-mail: info@bygones.co.uk
Web: www.bygones.co.uk

The splendid buildings of the stables were erected in the 1860s to accommodate the carriages, carriage horses and riding horses of visitors to the Hall, but with the arrival of the motor car gradually fell into disuse. In 1979 they took on a new lease of life when Lord Leicester acquired from Dick Joice, who hosted the popular Bygones series on Anglia TV, his vast collection of old agricultural and domestic items for which he was seeking a permanent home. This now forms the nucleus of a museum with thousands of exhibits from times gone by. Immediately opposite the exit to the Bygones Collection is the fascinating 'History of Farming Exhibition'. The Coke family was in the forefront of the Agricultural Revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries and the exhibition includes visual and audio illustrations of the influence of 'Coke of Norfolk'.

Grey Rule

The Wymondham Heritage Museum

10 The Bridewell, Norwich Rd, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 0NS
Tel: 01953 600205         E-mail: www.wymondham-norfolk.co.uk

The Wymondham Heritage Museum is located within the Bridewell, with its imposing Georgian facade, and the main gallery occupies what was the courtroom from 1878 to 1991. Displays tell the story of the Bridewell which has served as a prison, police station and courthouse. There is a special exhibition of artefacts and photographs devoted to the brushmaking industry, formerly one of the most important industries in the town. In addition there is a wide range of displays which chart the history of Wymondham and its people from prehistoric to modern times. There is also a gift shop. The Bridewell building also contains flats, the local Red Cross, Citizen's Advice Bureau and the Museum Tea Room.

Grey Rule

Strangers Hall Museum

Charing Cross, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 4AL
Tel: 01603 667229        E-mail: helen.renton@norfolk.gov.uk
Web: www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Strangers' Hall is one of the oldest and most fascinating buildings in Norwich. It is typical of houses occupied by the well-to-do city merchants when Norwich was in its heyday. Mayors and Sheriffs of Norwich once lived here, and left traces of their occupation in the fine rooms and fittings which survive. Particular highlights are the stone vaulted Undercroft, dating to 1320, the Tudor Great Hall with its stone mullioned window and screen, and the fine Georgian Dining Room. The house is set out as a series of rooms showing how people lived from Tudor to Victorian times. There is a warren of passages, staircases and interlinked rooms and formal garden, based on a seventeenth century design. Come along on a tour and let our guides reveal the wonders of the building and give you a glimpse of the characters who have made Strangers Hall their home.

Grey Rule

Norfolk Nelson Museum

26 South Quay, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR30 2RG
Tel: 01493 850698        E-mail: curator@nelson-museum.co.uk
Web: www.nelson-museum.co.uk

The Norfolk Nelson Museum boasts around 900 items dedicated to the naval hero from letters, books and ceramics to paintings, medals and a piece of wood from the Victory. Alongside traditional exhibits, the museum shows what Horatio Nelson's life was like below the decks through sight, sound and smell. A rare Jasperware teapot from Wedgwood forms part of the collection. A replica of a boat houses an interactive display where children can climb into hammocks, hear Nelson's commands and the commotion on board a battleship, see the crew's meagre daily rations and smell cannon-fire. A room recreating Nelson's home at Merton Place in Surrey is dedicated to his life outside of battle. A wax model of Nelson sits at a desk, and glass cases feature displays of how he looked and his colourful love life.

Grey Rule

Sheringham Museum

Station Rd, Sheringham, Norfolk, NR26 8RE
Tel: 01263 824482    Fax: 01263 825741
E-mail: enquiries@sheringhammuseum.co.uk    Web: www.sheringhammuseum.co.uk

Sheringham has a strong lifeboat and fishing tradition. Within our museum - formerly fishermen's' cottages - are models of lifeboats, a collection of original boat building tools dating back to the 1880s, information on the fishing industry, displays covering the war years, a Roman kiln, the original settlement of Upper Sheringham, fossils found on our beaches and photographs showing how this popular holiday resort has grown over the years. Our display on the "Weybourne Elephant", with parts of bones, teeth, ivory and other items which have come out of the cliffs, has been dated to be one and a half million years old. New displays for 2002 include ' Misfortunes of Peace and War' - planes, ships, debris and other items found on the beaches of North Norfolk. You are invited to visit our shop, look at the work of local artist Tom Armes in our Gallery, have a peep into an old pharmacy or simply see such unusual objects as a pig's bladder used as a fisherman's float, a Victorian fly trap or learn about the discontinued practice of flint picking off the beaches.

Grey Rule

The Muckleburgh Collection

Weybourne Military Camp, Weybourne, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 7EG
Tel: 01263 588608    Fax: 01263 588425
E-mail: info@muckleburgh.co.uk        Web: www.muckleburgh.co.uk

The collection, founded by C Berry Savory 14 years ago, boasts 16 working tanks and at least 3,000 other exhibits. We have model ships, anti aircraft guns and we house the Norfolk and Suffolk Yeomanry, dating back to 1700. On any Sunday throughout the season you can see the Abbott SPG put through its paces and take a ride on the six wheeled armoured personnel vehicle called a Gama Goat. We have an excellent restaurant serving both hot and cold meals. Try your hand at Morse Code in the Norfolk Amateur Radio Group Hut on Thursdays and Wednesdays.

Grey Rule

City of Norwich Aviation Museum Ltd

Old Norwich Rd, Horsham St. Faith, Norwich, Norfolk, NR10 3JF
Tel: 01603 893080        E-mail: admin@cnam.co.uk
Web: www.cnam.co.uk

If you find yourself in Norfolk, then a visit to our Museum is well worth while. Located on the outskirts of the city of Norwich, just north of Norwich Airport, we have an ever expanding display of static aircraft, including the mighty Vulcan bomber and Nimrod MR2. Inside displays include a tribute to the RAF No. 100 Group (electronic counter measures), Women in Aviation, and a history of Norwich Airport. We have a refreshments room, that is usually open in the summer, and at other times when staffing levels permit. There is also a Museum shop for those gifts and souvenirs. We are a registered charity, and are run by enthusiastic volunteers, our membership is open to all ages.

Grey Rule

Strumpshaw Hall Steam Museum

Strumpshaw Hall, Strumpshaw, Norwich, Norfolk, NR13 4HR
Tel: 01603 714535

Steam traction engines and road rollers, beam engines, fairground organs, models, narrow-gauge railway, farm machinery.

Grey Rule

Tolhouse Museum

Tolhouse St, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR30 2SH
Tel: 01493 858900        E-mail: yarmouth.museums@norfolk.gov.uk

The Tolhouse was once the town courtroom and gaol. It is one of the oldest civic buildings in the country. A visit to the dungeons is a chilling experience, with their original cells and lifelike models of Victorian prisoners. Local history displays include the only surviving Troll Cart. Troll Carts were particular to Great Yarmouth and were narrow carts especially designed to work in the cramped rows, which formed the heart of Great Yarmouth, sandwiched within the town walls between the river and the sea. For the brass rubbing enthusiast, there are a wide range of replica brasses, from medieval knights to Elizabethan ladies. Allow approximately one hour to see everything.

Grey Rule

True's Yard Fishing Museum

North St, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 1QW
Tel: 01553 770479
E-mail: info@truesyard.co.uk       Web: www.truesyard.co.uk

True's Yard - all that remains of King's Lynn's old fishing community. Now, although the fishing fleet still sails regularly from King's Lynn, the old way of life is gone. Beautifully and faithfully restored, the two adjoining cottages in True's Yard tell the story of how life was - families of up to eleven sharing the tiny two-room cottages. The tearoom serves a variety of homemade cakes and snacks, teas and fresh coffee. Access for wheelchairs are limited to the ground floor. Guided tours and group bookings by prior arrangement, discounts available. Gift shop and displays on Lynn's fishing tradition.

Grey Rule

Castle Museum

Castle Hill, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 3JU
Tel: 01603 493624        E-mail museums@norfolk.gov.uk

From Ancient Egypt to Norman life, natural history to modern art, Norwich Castle Museum houses a huge range of displays - including the largest collection of ceramic teapots in the world. In the imposing keep visitors can discover what life was like in Norman times with the help of video and computer animation from local company Televirtual. The archaeology gallery celebrates East Anglia's Queen Boudica, with displays of treasure from her tribe, the Icenis. Children can take the reins of a wicker chariot and relive the Iceni's historic attacks on Colchester and London.

Grey Rule

Cockley Cley Iceni Village

Cockley Cley, Swaffham, Norfolk, PE37 8AG
Tel: 01760 721339    Fax: 01760 721339

Queen Boadicea and the Iceni tribe lived here 2000 years ago. The museum complex is set in beautiful Breckland countryside and includes a nature trail, a seventh century church and an Elizabethan cottage.

Grey Rule

Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum

Shirehall, Market Avenue, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 3JQ
Tel: 01603 493649       E-mail: museums@norfolk.gov.uk

The Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum is situated in the Shirehall; which dates from the early 1830s. The displays are themed and set out chronologically, with excellent interpretative panels; designed for those with no military knowledge as well as the military historian. The Regiment was formed in 1685 and served around the world. The museum tells its story and the part that Norfolk's soldiers, and their families, played in shaping three centuries of global history. The troops brought back some fascinating things from their various campaigns, some with obvious military use and some that are much more bizarre. There’s an important photographic collection which has been drawn upon for both the displays and a video about the Regiment in India. The extensive medal collection contains examples of every campaign medal and gallantry medal awarded to a Norfolk Regiment officer, including two Victoria Crosses. It's an inspiring history lesson for visitors of all ages, and a fascinating insight into life in the ranks. Allow 1 - 1½hrs to see everything.

Grey Rule

Time and Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth Life

Blackfriars Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR30 3BX
Tel: 01493 842267    Fax: 01493 745459
E-mail: yarmouth.museums@norfolk.gov.uk

The Maritime Museum is situated on Marine Parade, right on the sea front, in the former Sailor’s Rest Home. It features fascinating displays of the local coastline and its rich maritime history. 'Boats and Beachmen', 'Herrings and Holidays', 'Wrecks and Rescuers' all feature in this former home for shipwrecked sailors. The museum contains wartime displays telling the story of Great Yarmouth in both World Wars. Great Yarmouth was the first place in Great Britain to be bombed by a Zeppelin attack in World War I and the town stood in the very front line of attack in World War II. Allow approximately one hour per tour.

Grey Rule

Swaffham Museum

4 London St, Swaffham, Norfolk, PE37 7DQ
Tel: 01760 721230       E-mail: enquiries@swaffhammuseum.co.uk

Local and social history of Swaffham with collections from the Romans to the 20th century. Exhibition for 2001 'Childhood'. Follow Howard Carter's road to the Valley of the Kings. See the wonderful Symonds Collection of handmade figures. Learn about John Chapman, the Swaffham Pedlar. Razor Smith, Admiral Knyvet Wilson VC, the creator of Biggles, are just a few of our well known citizens. Shop and good disability access. Quizzes and 'hands-on' available.

Grey Rule