Visits and workshops


The museum is suitable for students of all ages and abilities, from primary school to university.  All of our exhibitions, workshops and teacher-led tours link with learning outcomes and support cross-curricular literacy and numeracy skills.

Please note that while most children love our interactive and realistic exhibits, some of our more sensitive visitors may find the 1842 gallery a little frightening. However, we have plenty of other exhibits to explore. We’re happy to talk through any concerns you may have and suggest alternatives.

Led Sessions

Florence Nightingale - Key Stage 1


Join Miss Nightingale on an exciting journey to the Crimea!

Using our sensory time packages children will explore the horrors of wartime hospitals before Florence Nightingale. They will then embark on a thrilling journey to a Scutari hospital ward where they will get to see how conditions improved and try to help a poor wounded soldier.

This interactive session includes object handling, role- play and timelines.

Developed in collaboration with Key Stage 1 teachers, this popular workshop will provide a perfect route into history.


Victorians Alive! - Key Stage 2


Spend your day as a Victorian at Thackray Museum

Students will explore time packages of objects relating to six of the characters from the streets of our Leeds 1842 Gallery and build up a picture of their lives from objects and documents. They will then discover where their characters live and work, experiencing first-hand the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian Leeds. After witnessing the conditions people lived in, the students will then get the chance to discover how Victorians would have treated their illnesses, using maths skills to decide what their character would have done.

This brilliant workshop gets your students using lots of historical evidence to piece together the lives of real Victorians, while the role-play really gets them to empathise with the people from the past.

Life at the Workhouse! - Key Stage 2


Join the Workhouse Matron to discover how the poorest Victorians lived!

Students will use time packages of objects, role-play and problem solving to explore life in the Victorian Workhouse.  Using a timeline they will put the workhouse into context before investigating how inmates, worked, ate, played and learnt before trying out each activity for themselves.

This fascinating workshop helps to bring to life how poor Victorians survived in even the harshest conditions

Curing the King - Key Stage 2


An investigation into the Tudor Apothecary

Henry VIII is very sick and he needs your help. Join the Tudor Wise Woman and learn all about Tudor Medicine.

This two hour session uses both classroom and gallery-based activities to bring the Tudors to life for your group. Students will be taken on the adventure of a lifetime as they use historical enquiry and team work to learn about medical astrology, the four humours and much more in an attempt to cure one of history's most notorious kings.

This cross curricular session can be used in conjunction with both the existing, and 2014+ National Curriculum for History.

Suitable for years 3 - 6
Workshop length approx. 2 hours

Hands on History: WW1: Unknown Heroes - Key Stage 3 -4


Who were the unknown heroes of WWI and how did they change the world of medicine for all of us?

In this two hour workshop, your students will become historians, using a wide range of sources and objects to find out how and why WWI changed the world of medicine. They will put their techniques to the test, practicing the skills of forming enquiry questions and interrogating sources.

By investigating the lives of individuals involved in the war, they will learn about how the wounded and the sick were evacuated and treated, including the work of the F.A.N.Y.

Immerse your group in the stories of nurses, soldiers and surgeons and bring to life the ground-breaking technology that is still saving lives today.

Make Your Own Museum - Key Stage 2


This exciting session looks at how museums both investigate the past, and make objects and artefacts come to life. Students will tour the museum, focussing on interpretation styles, text writing and interactive exhibits.  They will then have the opportunity to work like real museum curators by handling and investigating mystery objects from the museum’s collection and creating their own mini museum. Suitable for KS2 upwards.

Talks & tours

We also offer a range of special talks and tours:

Primary Schools

Teeth and Healthy Eating


This fun, interactive and sometimes messy talk is perfect for KS1 and 2 pupils studying the systems of the human body, the functions of teeth and the importance of nutrition. Students will join in with an interactive experiment, discover historical objects and work in teams to further their scientific understanding.

Secondary Schools

Customer Services in a Heritage Venue


This comprehensive one-hour presentation is extremely useful for all students working on a Leisure, Travel and Tourism qualification or similar.

Modes of Education and Communication in Museums


This informative presentation is an excellent demonstration of communication methods and can be used to complement a wide range of KS3 and 4 subjects.

Careers in Museums


This comprehensive one-hour talk is a valuable learning tool for all students working on a Leisure, Travel and Tourism qualification or similar.

Pain Pus and Blood

A comprehensive one hour and detailed talk, exploring the developments of Surgery from 1845-1918

Public Health Reforms

An investigation into 19th Century Leeds and the Public Health reforms that changed the face of the city.

All Ages

Gallery Tours


Watch as the galleries come to life in front of your students during one of our fascinating and informative tours. Suitable for all ages.

Tour of the 1842 street with a focus on germs and disease


This fascinating tour transports your students back in time to an era of dirt, diseases and death. Suitable for all ages. Caution: the 1842 street contains some lifelike displays that may upset some children.

Plastics in Medicine


An interesting and thought provoking talk, investigating the ethics behind using llastics in modern medicine. Suitable for all ages.

Higher Education

Legacies of our Medical Past


This in-depth talk is aimed at medical or primary care students studying at degree level, but can be adapted for A level or vocational students. How does our medical past influence and inform the choices we make today? This session looks at changing theories about health, the range of diagnostics and treatments offered and how this has a direct impact on health choices and beliefs today.

We also offer bespoke talks on a relevant subject of your choice. Please call the education department on 0113 244 4343 to discuss your needs.

Teacher led visits

Leeds 1842 and Health Choices in Victorian Britain


In this hands-on exhibition you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian Leeds. You choose one of the characters who live on a typical Victorian street, discover what is making them ill and help to find a cure. Will you go to the doctor, the herbalist or try to treat yourself at home? What sort of treatment can you afford? Will you survive Victorian healthcare? Take a visit to Leeds 1842 and find out!

Fantastic Plastic


What scent should a medical face mask have? Which material would you choose to make a replacement hip? Our interactive gallery enables children to explore and test different plastics and PVC materials to learn more about modern-day surgery and the many different ways they are used in medicine to save lives today. From the patient's facemask and the surgeon's scalpel to the floor of the operating theatre itself, we will show you how plastic is at the heart of modern medicine.

Life Zone!


Your body is amazing! You can find out how to keep it that way by exploring Life Zone!, our interactive children’s gallery. Find out how your body works and how to stay healthy. Friendly and fun, with a brilliant range of physical and sensory activities to stimulate thinking about the body, it is especially suited to younger visitors.

Diseases in Retreat


After experiencing the squalor of Victorian Leeds, find out how scientific discoveries helped us to understand disease and revolutionise medicine. The discovery of vaccines, antibiotics and other drugs has made working treatments a reality.

Hannah Dyson's Ordeal


Do you have the stomach to witness Hannah’s ordeal? Enter the operating theatre as surgeons prepare to amputate Hannah’s left leg. This gallery is based on the true story of an 11-year-old whose leg was crushed by machinery at the mill where she worked in 1823. In this unique audio-visual display, you can experience first-hand the horror of 1820s surgery.

Pain, Pus and Blood


Almost half of all patients undergoing major surgery in Victorian times died from blood loss, shock or infection. No one knew about germs, there were no anaesthetics to numb the pain, and no antiseptics to keep the wound clean. Having an operation in the 1800s was terrifying! In this gruesome exhibition, you can see how distressing surgery used to be, and how far we have come since.

New Frontiers of Surgery


Explore the innovations that have transformed the world of surgery since the mid-1800s, from the first public operation using a general anaesthetic, to Joseph Lister’s invention of his antiseptic apparatus. Push the boundaries of science in this fascinating gallery.

Having a Baby


What is it like to have a baby? This exhibition uses real stories to explore how the experience of giving birth has changed since 1890.

Wilkinson Gallery


Here you will find an amazing array of 600 ceramic apothecary jars collected by the Manchester physician Dr John F. Wilkinson. The jars date back as far as the 1500s and once lined the shelves of apothecary shops. They contained both the ingredients for medicines and the medicines themselves.


Florence Nightingale Outreach Session


Bringing Florence Nightingale to YOUR SCHOOL.

The children will meet our costumed actress in role as Florence Nightingale and using a selection of gruesome and fascinating artefacts, Miss Nightingale will tell the children about her life and her work as a Nurse during the Crimean War. The children will focus on the changes she made in Barrack Hospitals and the improvements in hygiene that resulted from her pioneering work. Using a fun timeline exercise the children will learn to put Miss Nightingale's life in context.

The group will then travel back in time to experience life as it was in Scutari Hospital whilst dressed as Nurses and Porters. Once they arrive at the hospital they will work together to clean the wards, make the beds, remove the rats and help treat a wounded soldier.

Perfect for Key Stage 1 students studying History, Science or just wanting a fun day of learning.