York Museums Trust History - York Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum, York Art Gallery and York St Mary's


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. Please click on the links to find out more about Our Mission and to read our Annual Reports.

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, the gallery has developed an outstanding collection of paintings that range from 14th century Western European examples through to 20th century British work. Following a major redevelopment project, the gallery reopened in 2015 with a new Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) to showcase its important collection of British Studio Ceramics.

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 objects reflecting everyday life in the county. One of its renowned displays is the reconstructed Victorian street, Kirkgate, that has been hugely influential in museum displays worldwide. The 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 botanical gardens, both of which were founded in the 1830s by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. The museum currently houses a number of archaeological, geological and natural history artefacts from our extensive collections. 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.

York St Mary’s

York St Mary’s is a deconsecrated medieval parish church on Castlegate, close to the Coppergate Centre and the Jorvik Viking Centre. 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.