Named after a castle that previously occupied the site, York Castle Museum is unusual in that its displays are incorporated into recreated rooms and scenes, meaning everything can be seen in context. British history is explained through the use of themed rooms, streets and even a prison cell!The scenes aim to give meaning to the various artefacts within them, so that visitors understand how they were used.
Genuine Victorian fittings, fixtures and shop stock are used in Kirkgate, a recreated Victorian street. Here visitors can see the schoolroom and sweet shop, as well as talk to Kirgate's inhabitants: the policeman, toymaker and grocer. The streets own newspaper, 'The Kirkgate Examiner' tells visitors about the various goings on. An interactive display allows a sneaky look at customers haggling in the pawn shop. Other 'living' exhibits include a Georgian dining room, a 1950s living room and a 1940s kitchen. Examples of artefacts that can be seen are toys, armour, clothes, weapons and household items from past centuries.
The prison cells explores the building's past life as a the story of infamous highwayman Dick Turpin, and genuine accounts of life as a prisoner during the 1700s – at times these can be gruesome! The museum was originally an 18th century courthouse, so already had its own cells and prisoner records.
For wheelchair users the ground floor is accessible, which encompasses the Victorian street, prison cells and the 1960s displays. The upper floors are not accessible, but the museum does not charge entrance fees for disabled visitors or their carers for this reason. There is a disabled toilet on site.