Major Development Being Planned for York Castle Museum - January 2017

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Major Development Being Planned for York Castle Museum

18 January 2017

A major capital redevelopment of York Castle Museum is being planned by York Museums Trust as part of the city’s ambition to transform the Castle Gateway.

The Trust is in the early stages of developing a scheme to redevelop York Castle Museum and do justice to the site and its world class collections. The scheme will sit alongside wider development and together would significantly enhance the surroundings and sightlines across the area.

Plans include a new link building between the two former prison buildings which house the museum, as well as a second entrance and improvements that would allow everyone to access all of the museum for the first time.
It would also feature new immersive experiences and displays using authentic objects to tell the story of the Castle site and its impact on the North of England.

The redevelopment will see York Museums Trust work closely with the City of York Council on their vision for the whole Castle Gateway area. This includes the transformation of the exterior areas around the museum – improving the attractiveness of the public spaces and creating new visitor routes, such as a riverside walk.

York Museums Trust estimates the project would cost between £14 and £18 million, with an application to HLF being planned for December 2018 for a large proportion of this. If successful it is estimated the project would be finished in 2026.

Reyahn King, chief executive of York Museums Trust, said:

“York Castle Museum sits in one of York’s most historically significant sites. We believe there is huge potential for this whole area to be transformed into a much more inviting and usable public space which will help attract hundreds of thousands of extra visitors to this part of the city.

“A key part of this will be the redevelopment of York Castle Museum. We are beginning to work on ambitious and exciting plans that would see the museum offer a high quality experience where visitors choose how to enjoy, and explore the site and collections. The atmospheric immersive nature of Kirkgate, our Victorian Street, will be extended in 21st-century ways and new displays will bring out the personal stories and historic events that make both the site and the collections so relevant and intriguing to this day.

“We are working closely with the City of York Council so our plans enhance and complement their wider vision for the Castle Gateway area and the much needed improvement of this nationally significant historical site”

York Museums Trust is currently at the very early stages of planning the details of the development and would be interested to gather initial feedback on their plans. Anyone wanting to get in touch or be included in consultation and development groups should email:


The York Castle Museum Vision in More Detail

The initial plans to improve York Castle Museum include:

  • A new link building would provide a much more inviting welcome to the museum improving the visitor experience and allowing everyone to access all areas of the museum for the first time. This would replace the current 1970’s building which is not fit for purpose.
  • A new second entrance would be created at the north end of the Female Prison building, nearest the current car park. This modest extension would improve visitor flow and the appearance of this part of the building.
  • The intention is for both new additions to be of a high quality architectural standard that would attract the eye from Castlegate and the Piccadilly side of the river respectively.

The history of York Castle site would be told in depth for the first time.

The York Castle and the Eye of York area has been a significant site since Roman times. The redevelopment will address this so that visitors, whether local or tourists, will leave knowing why this history is important, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. By engaging with the buildings, museum objects, stories and characters, visitors will gain an understanding of how and why the site and buildings have evolved over time.

New immersive experiences and displays will be created in keeping with Dr Kirk’s original vision for the museum. This will see the nationally designated collections displayed in interactive ways to show how extraordinary the everyday, ordinary lives of people become when seen through the lens of time.

New exhibition spaces will enable more of the large history collections held by the city to be seen as part of a changing temporary exhibition programme.

York Castle Museum will continue to work with communities to show community –led exhibitions co-produced with community groups. York Museums Trust will be keen to involve the people of York and other stakeholders in consultation to inform plans over the coming year.


A New Riverside Walk

As part of the City of York Council’s vision for the Castle Gateway York Museums Trust is looking at ways to create a new riverside walkway, connecting Tower Street with Castlegate. This would include walking through the recently developed Castle gardens and by Raindale watermill and original Castle walls.

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