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.
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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.
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.
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.
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