After 2017, Hull is a leading light in UK art and culture. These are the arts organisations and museums who are right at the heart of it.
Theatres and arts centres
Fancy a bit of Shakespeare? Performance art? Musical theatre? We’ve got you covered in Hull. Head to Hull Truck Theatre to watch pioneering, powerful theatre with a contemporary northern voice. Hull Truck produce several shows a year and present work from some of the most exciting theatre companies from the UK and beyond, in their main theatre and intimate studio. The recently spruced up Hull New Theatre meanwhile plays host to big touring shows, including opera, ballet and drama. Hull City Hall have gigs, comedy and live events of all shapes and sizes, and are home to the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra.
As well as the regular programme of concerts at Hull City Hall, classical music fans can head over to the University of Hull for more recitals, chamber music and full-scale concerts. The newly-renovated Middleton Hall is a world-class concert hall at the heart of the University of Hull campus. The University’s Gulbenkian Centre is home to The Donald Roy Theatre and The Anthony Minghella Studio too, showcasing student drama and professional shows.
Hull’s fringe scene is a pretty big deal too. Try out Kardomah94 for alternative theatre, music, film and other events (bonus: they also do great food). Over in the Fruit Market, Früit are a multi-arts venue showing everything from cult cinema and comedy to club nights and gigs. Head up to the Avenues you’ll find theatre, spoken word and a whole programme of other events at Union Mash-Up.
Venture a little further north into Beverley and you’ll find East Riding Theatre, showing new productions, comedy and touring shows in their beautiful converted chapel. And if you make the trip out to Bridlington on the coast be sure to visit Spa Bridlington, as well as Brid’s favourite little venue Spotlight Theatre.
Hull has an incredible story. Learn about our city’s history and heritage in one of Hull’s museums, starting in the (city-run, so completely free of charge) Museums Quarter. The Hull and East Riding Museum is part of the Museums Quarter and gives you the chance to explore Hull’s history from 250,000 BC to today and come face to face with a wooly mammoth. You can find out about Hull’s maritime and seafaring history at the Maritime Museum, or learn about life on Hull’s historic ships first hand on the city’s two floating museums, the Spurn Lightship and the Arctic Corsair. Stop in to hear stories from across the city’s past at the Hull History Centre, or at Hull People’s Memorial Exhibition Centre, and celebrate the legacy of Hull’s most famous son William Wilberforce (MP and champion of the abolitionist movement) at his birthplace Wilberforce House.
For some local history just outside of Hull’s city centre, head to Burton Constable Hall to discover its ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ and get to know some of the fascinating characters from the Constable family over the past 500 years.
If you’re looking for something a bit more interactive you could take a trip to the Hands on History Museum, and then Dinostar – a whole museum dedicated to dinosaurs. The Streetlife Museum of Transport is another popular choice for families, with its own replica 1940s high street.
Old school ravers, on the other hand, should definitely pay the UK’s only Museum of Club Culture a visit.
2017 was a huge year for galleries and visual art in Hull, and its star will only continue to rise. The Ferens Art Gallery, home to work by David Hockney, Stanley Spencer and Gillian Wearing reopened after refurbishment. The gallery hosted crowd-pleaser Skin: Freud, Mueck and Tunick, plus one of the biggest and most exciting contemporary art competitions in the world – the Turner Prize. Make sure you pay this grand building a visit.
The Fruit Market area is rapidly becoming a centre for arts and culture in Hull – Humber Street Gallery leads the way on Humber Street, with its contemporary selection of exhibitions. Visit gallery space Studio Eleven, specialists in printmaking and ceramics, who run their gallery alongside a programme of workshops for all abilities. You’ll find even more beautiful hand-made work down the road from Studio Eleven at Oresome, who create, sell and exhibit contemporary jewellery. The Kingston Art Group have been a pillar of Hull’s artistic community since 1989 and now call Fruit Market home too, with an exhibition space on Humber Street.
The RED Gallery of Contemporary Art is run by a group of local artists and is the heart of the city’s contemporary art scene, giving artists the opportunity to experiment and exhibit their work in Hull. The Creative and Cultural Company run the POP (Pride of Place) Art Space in Princes Quay Shopping Centre to democratise contemporary art and start a discussion around art in Hull; they also run the Hull International Photography (HIP) Gallery and Club in Princes Quay, home to the Hull International Photography Festival and other exhibitions throughout the year. The University of Hull have an excellent collection in the Brynmor Jones Library, including work from Wyndham Lewis and Henry Moore. Meanwhile the Myton Gallery in Hepworth Arcade showcase and sell the work of local artists, specialising in historical maritime painting.
North of the city, Beverley Art Gallery has a huge collection of work from celebrated local artist Frederick Elwell, as well as a wide-ranging permanent collection. Bohemia Galleries in Beverley open by appointment and have a focus on contemporary painting. Nearby country estate Sledmere House is home to the Triton Gallery, an exhibition space showcasing a range of professional and amateur Yorkshire artists. Head over to Bridlington to see Gallery 49, with paintings, print, sculpture and lots more over two floors of a listed Georgian house. If you head over the Humber Bridge into Barton upon Humber, make sure you stop by The Ropewalk to see their new exhibitions in all disciplines, as well as a celebrated sculpture garden.