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What to See and Do in Leeds - Museums, Mansions, and Galleries

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Among Leeds' cultural highlights are its outstanding galleries and museums. The city's manufacturing heritage is the focus of museums housed in former industrial buildings. Other cultural attractions include venues dedicated to film, photography, and video. Not far from the city centre, stately mansions in landscaped gardens are showcases for collections of antique furniture, paintings, textiles, and ceramics.

Art and culture in central Leeds

 

Central Leeds is dominated by the architectural legacy of its Victorian heyday. The Town Hall, built in 1858, is a triumph of 19th-century architecture. At the City Art Gallery you'll find a rich collection of paintings by British and French masters and sculpture by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Leeds City Museum houses a renowned collection of art from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

 

  • Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA; Tel: +44 113 247 8256; Website: Leeds Art Gallery
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  • Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 8BH; Tel: +44 113 224 3732; Website: Leeds City Museum

Old weaponry and contemporary art in south Leeds

 

It takes only 5 minutes to walk from central Leeds by way of Crown Point Bridge to the River Aire's south bank. Here, you'll find a gleaming glass and steel building that looks like a futuristic fortress - the Royal Armouries Museum. Inside, 6 galleries are filled with historic weaponry, from samurai swords to medieval maces. Stroll a few minutes downriver to The Tetley, a recent addition to Leeds' catalogue of cultural attractions. Housed inside an art deco building that was once home to the city's flagship brewery, it's now an arts centre dedicated to contemporary performance and installation art.

 

  • Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT; Tel: +44 113 220 1999; Website: Royal Armouries Museum
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  • The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds LS10 1JQ; Tel: +44 113 320 2323; Website: The Tetley

 

Leeds' riverside heritage and modern waterfront

 

The River Aire, which meanders through the centre of Leeds, played a key part in the city's history. In the 18th century it was harnessed to power textile mills and factories. Its waters were diverted into the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to link the city with the Atlantic. Today, old docks and wharves around Leeds' Canal Basin form a rejuvenated waterfront district. Riverside attractions in former industrial buildings, like Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills and Thwaite Mills Watermill Museum, exhibit the water-powered machinery that drove Britain's first manufacturing revolution.

 

 

Historic houses near Leeds

 

Within minutes of central Leeds, you can visit historic houses and stately homes built for aristocratic dynasties and crammed with fine art. Harewood House, built in 1759, is the residence of the Earl and Countess of Harewood. Within is a collection of furniture designed by Thomas Chippendale and paintings by English artists like Gainsborough and Reynolds. In Kirkstall, a couple of miles from the city centre, you'll find Abbey House Museum, where displays recreate life in Victorian Leeds. It's in the former gatehouse of Kirkstall Abbey, now a picturesque ruin.

 

  • Harewood House, Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG; Tel: +44 113 216 1010; Website: Harewood House
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  • Abbey House Museum, Abbey Walk, Abbey Road, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH; Tel: +44 113 230 5492; Website: Abbey House Museum

 

Sights in and around Bradford

 

Ten miles northwest of Leeds, Bradford has been granted UNESCO "City of Film" status. Lovers of cinema can visit the city's National Media Museum, dedicated to photography and the moving image. A couple of miles out of town, 1853 Gallery at Salts Mill presents the work of Bradford-born painter David Hockney. The gallery is part of Saltaire, a 19th-century industrial village. Built for his workers by plutocrat Sir Titus Salt, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

  • National Media Museum, Bradford BD1 1NQ; Tel: +44 844 856 3797; Website: National Media Museum
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  • Salts Mill, Shipley, Saltaire, Bradford BD1 1NQ; Tel: +44 1274 531 163; Website: Salts Mill