Top Derby museums

Best museums in Derby

If it’s amazing museums you’re after, you can’t go wrong with Derby… This city is full of history museums and places of heritage, making it one of the most interesting places to explore this year.

  1. Derby Art Museum and Gallery
  2. Heights of Abraham
  3. Kedleston Hall
  4. The National Tramway Museum
  5. Calke Abbey
  6. Haddon Hall

From grand art museums showcasing the area’s creative output to mining museums that are reached by cable car, Derby has more fascinating attractions than you might think. Your Derby city break starts here!

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Derby Art Museum and Gallery

Among much else, Derby Museum and Art Gallery exhibits a splendid collection of Derby porcelain, several hundred pieces tracking through its different phases and styles from the mid-eighteenth century until today. The museum’s star turn, however, is its fine collection of the work of Joseph Wright, a local artist regarded as one of the most talented English painters of his generation.

Best for: Art buffs looking to gain a better understanding of the area and its unique contribution to the art world.

2. Heights of Abraham

So much more than a museum, Heights of Abraham is a fun day out for the whole family. This old mining site was opened to tourists in Victorian times, and it’s since become one of the most popular and beloved attractions in the area. The journey starts at the bottom of Masson Hill, where a cable car takes you on a stunning ride over the Derwent Valley. When you get to the top, there’s a huge variety of sights and attractions waiting to be discovered: cavern and mine tours, scenic walking trails and a museum that explains the history of the site through film, photography and artefacts.

Best for: Would-be miners and those wanting to get some great snaps of the picturesque Derwent Valley.

3. Kedleston Hall

This eighteenth century manor house is one of the finest of its kind in England – it’s stunning exterior is matched only by its fascinating collection of furniture, paintings and worldly artefacts. Home of the Curzon family for generations, the present building incorporates ancient Roman and sixteenth century Italian architecture in its design. As well as a walk in its impressive grounds, visitors can marvel at the opulent interiors and state rooms.

Best for: The architecturally appreciative – this country house and its grand collections won’t disappoint!

4. The National Tramway Museum

Located in a recreated period village, the National Tramway Museum contains a huge number of vintage trams from all over the UK. Hop aboard one of several working trams and travel to the village pub, café, sweet-shop and tram depot taking a step back in time. Once you’ve filled up on ale, take the tram to the Woodland Walk and Sculpture Trail – a lottery-funded project allowing guests to peak down disused lead mines and explore picturesque greenery.

Best for: Those looking for an immersive day-out surrounded by historic trams.

5. Calke Abbey

This former stately home is particularly unique for the way that it presents the rooms in the same state of decline that they were left to the National Trust. Its previous owners, the Harpur family, were huge collectors – and hoarders – and the building contains an eclectic mix of objects acquired over the centuries. The abbey is a museum dedicated to the eccentricities of its collectors. Of particular note are the displays of butterflies, birds, shells and eggs, as well as the extensive library and interesting family portraits and sporting pictures.

Best for: Visitors who want to see one of the most extraordinary manor house museums in the country.

6. Haddon Hall

Dating back to the eleventh century, this atmospheric house has a long and fascinating history to discover. Among its many treasures, the house contains some of the best collections of early English furniture in the country. This medieval manor house has been described as one of the most complete and interesting of its kind, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. It also has some amazing gardens and a tasty restaurant!

Best for: Manor house fanatics – this is one of the best medieval manor houses you will ever see…

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