York is a popular destination for couples and lovers who have an appreciation for culture and history - not only that of York, but England as a whole.
The city hosts some of the most prestigious art galleries and museums in the entire United Kingdom. They succeed in capturing the depth and richness of York's varied history. Their cultural offerings provide inspiration to both visitors and locals alike.
In terms of art galleries, York has some of the best in the region. Its galleries regularly host several annual exhibitions, such as an annual digital arts festival that highlights many UK installations and nearby areas.
Located on Exhibition Square, the City Art Gallery is one of the most popular landmarks in York. It houses an impressive collection of paintings from the 14th century to the 20th century as well as an extraordinary display of ceramics. The building itself, which is a Grade II listed historical treasure, was built in 1879 to host the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition and was turned into the York Art Gallery in 1892. The statue of William Etty at the building's centre was built in 1911. In 2005, the gallery was renovated and has since regularly hosted various art exhibitions. The gallery is run by the York Museums Trust, the same organization that runs the Yorkshire museum and gardens and York Castle Museum.
Nearby, at Gillygate, there's the Adze Gallery, which is not as popular or as imposing as its neighbour, the City Art Gallery, but is equally as interesting, with a wide variety or more modern paintings and sculptures from established international artists and those on the rise. The gallery also has its own arts loan scheme that allows even the average man on the street the opportunity to own art.
York is also home to one of the UK's most photography galleries, The Impressions Gallery, located in Castlegate, at the heart of the city centre. Many of England's best photographers, past and present, are represented here. The Impressions Gallery has regular fascinating photo exhibitions throughout the year, including the prestigious annual Jerwood Awards.
The Blake Gallery on Blake Street is another popular gallery in town. Its allure is decidedly not traditional, but depicts many of the works of leading local and national artists. A favourite subject is the breath-taking landscape and scenery of York as well as the Yorkshire Moors.
For lovers of jewellery and handicrafts, the place to visit is the Pyramid Art Gallery. Located at Stonegate, many of the original pieces available at the gallery can be purchased.
Trains have played an important role in the development of York and their contributions are honoured by the National Railway Museum on Leeman Road, recognized as the world's biggest rail museum. Their art gallery features various paintings about trains and the railway industry as portrayed by many famous artists. Exhibitions change on a regular basis so tourists are advised to check listings for details.
Finally, as part of its contributions to art scene in York, the local government spearheads the York Open Studios, an initiative that allows local artists to establish their reputations by displaying their works at non-studio locations like schools, libraries and restaurants. Occasionally, established artists also display their masterpieces at the York Open Studios.
When it comes to museums, York does not have any shortage of venues that commemorate the city's rich history. Whether you're fascinated with dark and gruesome museums like the York Dungeons or prefer the classic, Victorian allure of The Castle Museum and its cobbled streets, York's museums have something to offer.
Patterned after the successful London Dungeon, the York Dungeon features actors and period sets that portray the most horrible moments from York history, such as The Great Plague, Labyrinth of the Lost Legion, Torture Chamber, Ghosts of York, Gorvick: The Real Viking Story and York personalities like Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin.
Meanwhile, the Castle Museum commemorates an actual castle that William the Conqueror constructed in 1086. Aside from its prison cells, this museum houses craft workshops, a military display, the Barn Gallery and period rooms that depict a Victorian parlour and a Jacobean dining room.
Perhaps the most popular of all York's museums is the Jorvik Viking Centre, which was built atop a site where actual Viking remains were discovered. Thousands of tourists visit the museum every week, eager to be brought to a simpler time, complete with the sights and smells of a bygone age.
York is also home to other notable museums like the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens, the Richard III Museum and the Merchant Adventurers Hall.