You should never be stuck for things to do in Bristol, even when you’ve run out of money. Be it gigs or galleries, nothing should stop you from grabbing a bit of culture in the city. These free museums in Bristol are actually among the city’s best too. Letting you learn all about our history without any cash exchanging hands (although I’m sure they’d appreciate the odd donation if you can afford it). So next time you’re a bit bored and low on funds, just remember these are the best museums in Bristol and all free to visit.
1. M Shed
M Shed is dedicated to everything Bristol, particularly the people who shaped the city into what it is today. You’ll learn about everything from Bristol’s very own dinosaur, Thecodontosaurus, to the city’s links with the transatlantic slave trade. Plus, topics like music, art, industry and technology. Situated in Wapping Wharf, you’re not far from a plethora of the coolest shops, bars and restaurants either – though these will cost money.
M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN
2. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
By far one of the best museums in Bristol. For exploring thousands, if not billions, of years worth of art, nature and history in Bristol, look no further than Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Across three floors of free exhibitions, discover Egyptian mummies, explore the wetlands of the southwest, meet extinct wildlife from the UK and soak up stunning collections of British and European art. It’s also home to Banksy’s iconic Paint Pot Angel!
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Rd, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1RL
3. The Red Lodge Museum
The name of this always reminds us of Twin Peaks, but the free museum has nothing to do with the David Lynch classic. So what does lie behind the red door? The Red Lodge is a historic Elizabethan house, originally a lodge to the Great House, where Queen Elizabeth I once stayed. It has taken on many forms across its 400-year history, however, and you’ll marvel as you wind through its Tudor origins to its role as a Victorian girls’ reform school. Make sure to visit just for the Great Oak Room, often considered one of the finest rooms in the West Country.
The Red Lodge Museum, Park Row, West End, Bristol, BS1 5LJ
4. Georgian House Museum
Bristol’s relationship with the transatlantic slave trade hasn’t always been heavily scrutinised, but the city is getting better at acknowledging its role in this horrific historical moment. At the Georgian House Museum, you can discover what a Bristol sugar plantation and slave owner’s home might have looked like around 1790. Across eleven rooms, spread over four floors, you can see every aspect of life, from the basement kitchen to the formal rooms – with a more recent installation giving a voice to the unheard enslaved.
The Georgian House Museum, 7 Great George St, Bristol BS1 5RR
5. Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate
Blaise Castle is most famous for being mentioned in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. With a trip to this magnificent folly castle, surrounded by 400 acres of parkland, you’ll understand why it captured the author’s imagination. At the free museum, you can learn how people lived through time – what they wore, the toys they played with and how they managed their household chores. The woodlands are equally worth exploring too.
Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate, Henbury Rd, Henbury, Bristol BS10 7QS
6. Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre
Founded in 2013, the Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre provides a permanent exhibition of Palestinian heritage, culture and daily life. Inside you’ll find an historical account of Palestine; a display of artefacts, photographs, and paintings; a reference library full of books, journals and DVDs; as well as several Palestinian fair-trade products for sale.
Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre, 27 Broad St, Bristol BS1 2HG
7. George Müller Museum
During the Victorian era, George Müller cared for 10,000 orphaned children in Bristol. He also led churches, travelled the world as a missionary, spoke to American presidents, taught the Bible, and raised over £1,500,000 (about £100m in today’s prices). You can learn all about his incredible life at this free museum in Bristol.
George Müller Museum, 45-47, The Lofthouse, College Rd, Ashley Down, Bristol BS7 9FG