Did you know, our roots stretch all the way back to Hull’s Literary and Philosophical Society?
Founded in 1822, and later housed at the Royal Institution on Albion Street, the Society was an important part of Hull’s cultural history. They funded public lectures, built a teaching laboratory and even provided spaces for subjects like art, design and music.
Hull Municipal Museum facade, Albion Street, 1930s
By 1900, as the local authority took responsibility for further education, the Literary and Philosophical Society focused instead on its members. And so, the building and its collections were transferred to Hull Corporation.
Curator Thomas Sheppard
In 1901, Thomas Sheppard became the first curator of the collections. Under his stewardship, the local authority opened a reorganised Municipal Museum in 1902. In 1905, local MP Thomas Robinson Ferens donated money for artworks, and an Art Gallery opened above the Municipal Museum.
Municipal Museum Art Gallery, c.1900.
Around the same period, Hull Corporation purchased Wilberforce House, transforming it into a museum and memorial to abolitionist William Wilberforce. The museum opened to the public in 1906, displaying materials related to slavery and social history.
In 1917, Thomas Robinson Ferens again donated funds. This time to build a new art gallery on the site of the former St John’s Church. Ferens Art Gallery opened in 1927 named, of course, after our local benefactor.
Ferens Art Gallery c.1927-1929
From the 1920s onwards, various museums opened in Hull, including the Museum of Fisheries and Shipping, the Museum of Commerce and Transport and the Railway Museum – among others. Over the years, these museums underwent various transformations (and a number of air raids!) to become the museums you know and love today.
Now, two hundred years from where we began, Hull Museums spans multiple historic museum sites. Each one is home to collections of local and international significance.
Hull Railway Museum
Visit Hull Museums
You’ll find Hull and East Riding Museum of Archaeology, Streetlife Museum and Wilberforce House Museum at the heart of Hull’s historic Museums Quarter. There they nestle among old warehouses, merchant dwellings and cobbled lanes.
A short walk away, Hands on History Museum occupies the Old Grammar school in Hull’s Old Town. While the Maritime Museum stands at the centre of Hull, in Grade II* Listed Dock Offices built in 1871.
Each building has its own long history as part of the unique character and cultural heritage of Hull.
Brigg Boat in the Municipal Museum
We also count the Spurn Lightship and the Arctic Corsair among our sites. Both are currently undergoing restoration as part of Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City Project.
Explore Our venues to find out more about our museums and what’s waiting to be discovered…