York Museums Trust

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York Museums Trust
Founded26 February 2002 (2002-02-26)
FounderRobin Guthrie, Michael John Allen, David E Rayner, R E Rushforth
Registration no.1092466
Purpose"Our Mission is to cherish the collections, buildings and gardens entrusted to us, presenting and interpreting them as a stimulus for learning, a provocation to curiosity and a source of inspiration and enjoyment for all."
OriginsCreated by City of York Council to manage the city's museums and galleries
Area served
ServicesOperating York's city-owned museums and galleries
Key people
Chairman Sir John Lawton
Chief Executive Reyahn King
101 (as of 1 November 2020)[1]
352 (2016)[2]

York Museums Trust (YMT) is the charity responsible for operating some key museums and galleries in York, England. The trust was founded in 2002 to run York's museums on behalf of the City of York Council.[3][4] It has seen an increase in annual footfall of 254,000 to the venues since its foundation.[5] In both 2016 and 2017 it saw its annual visitors numbers reach 500,000 people.[6]

History and operations[edit]

Middleham Jewel
  • The trust was founded on 1 August 2002.[7] On 3 October 2002 it took control of the sites. Many of the staff who had been working in the museums and galleries under the City of York council transferred across to the new organisation.[8]
  • In 2009 jointly acquired with the British Museum the Vale of York Hoard,[9] a Viking treasure hoard valued at over £1,000,000.[10]
  • An exhibition in 2011 of David Hockney’s largest landscape painting Bigger Trees Near Warter was the most well attended since the Trust had taken over the York Art gallery in 2002.[11]
  • In 2012 the Trust successfully raised enough money to retain one of a pair of Iron Age gold torcs that had been found in Towton, North Yorkshire.[12]
  • A number of objects with a Yorkshire connection and held by the Trust were included in the BBC History of the World project, including the Middleham Jewel, the York helmet, and a tin of Rowntree's cocoa from Ernest Shackleton’s unsuccessful Nimrod expedition to the South Pole.[13][14][15]
  • In 2013 the Trust in conjunction with the BBC organised a Stargazing Live event at the York Observatory in the York museum gardens.[16]
  • In 2014 an exhibition at York Castle Museum focussed on the changes brought about by the First World War, in the centenary year of the start of the conflict.[17]
  • In 2015 Janet Barnes, the founding Chief Executive of YMT retired. Reyahn King was appointed as her successor.[18]
  • King stepped down in summer 2022 to move to National Trust for Scotland.[19] YMT announced her replacement, Kathryn Blacker, on 30 August 2022.[20]


The Trust is primarily funded through the City of York Council and the Arts Council. The Trust also derives substantial revenue from admission charges and other income sources. Total funding and income for 2013/14 is expected to be £5.85 million.[21][22]


York Museums Trust is led by a CEO, supported by directors and other senior staff. They are responsible to the Trustees.

Directors of York Museums Trust
Name Dates in post Role
Janet Barnes 2002–2015 CEO
Mary Kershaw 2003-2009 Director of Collections
Reyahn King 2015–2022 CEO
Kathryn Blacker 2022– CEO

Trustees of York Museums Trust as of November 2020[23]
Name Date Appointed Role
James Grierson 2014 Chair
David Andrews 2014
Philip Ashton 2017
Dr Angela Dean 2017
Mary Haworth 2015
Prof Dianne Willcocks 2017 Senior Independent Trustee
Dr Miranda Lowe 2020
Scott Furlong 2020
Andrew Scott 2020
Councillor Simon Daubeney
Councillor Danny Myers
Keith Nesbitt
Adeeba Malik

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

  • On 18 March 2020 the Trust announced that it was closing all of its sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[24]
  • On 28 July it announced that it had a £1.5 million shortfall in its finances due to the pandemic and, despite emergency funding from Arts Council England, it warned of possible job losses resulting from the prolonged closure of its venues.[25] An August report sent to the City of York Council requesting additional funds to ensure the continued operation of the Trust warned that the failure to do so would result in the closure of all York Museum Trust sites and the reversion of ownership to the council.[26]
  • On 13 October 2020 the Trust announced that it has been awarded £850,000 as part of the Culture Recovery Fund from the UK government.[27]
  • On 2 November 2020 the Trust announced that it was due to close the York Art Gallery and York Castle Museum from 5 November as part of new national restrictions in England.[28]
  • On 10 November 2020 the Trust announced that it has finalised the restructure of the organisation in an effort to close a £570,000 shortfall in its finances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 26 members of staff were made redundant and 17 members of staff took voluntary redundancy. As of 1 November 2020 the Trust employs 101 people.[1]
  • The Castle Museum and Art Gallery reopened on 2 December 2020.[29][30] The Yorkshire Museum remained closed.
  • York was moved into Tier 3 Restrictions on 31 December 2020, forcing the Art Gallery and Castle Museum to close.[31]
  • On 28 March 2021 the Yorkshire Museum announced that it has received an additional £18,000 'Lifeline grant' from the Culture Recovery Fund for repairs to the building façade and roof.[32]
  • In March 2021 it was announced that the Art Gallery would reopen on 28 May to coincide with the launch of a new exhibition 'Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years' and that the Castle Museum would also reopen in May.[33]
  • On 2 April 2021 the Trust announced that it had received £423,000 from the second round of funding of the Culture Recovery Fund.[34]
  • On 7 May 2021 it announced the reopening of the Yorkshire Museum on the 9 July 2021 with an exhibition featuring a portrait of Richard III of England from the National Portrait Gallery.[35]


The trust runs four cultural venues and a garden.

The Yorkshire Museum[edit]

This is the historic county museum displaying collections inherited from the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and acting as a regional collecting museum.[36]

York Museum Gardens[edit]

The Museum Gardens are a botanical garden containing the Yorkshire Museum and St Mary's Abbey.[37]

York Castle Museum[edit]

The Castle Museum is a social history museum housed in two former prison buildings.[38]

York Art Gallery[edit]

York's Art Gallery has a large collection of paintings and an internationally important collection of studio ceramics.[39] In 2012 the trust obtained £7 million of funding for major refurbishment of the gallery.[40] Over 1000 nationally important paintings held by the Trust have been made available online as part of a cooperative project with the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation.[41][42]

York St Mary's[edit]

York St Mary's is a contemporary art space in the deconsecrated church of St Mary's, Castlegate.[43] The first use of the space was a joint exhibition by a number of artists, but since 2005 St Mary's has hosted installations by individuals, which are changed on a regular basis. The first of these commissions, inspired by the medieval building itself, was a textile work by Caroline Broadhead called Breathing Spaces. This was followed by Echo, a work by Susie MacMurray. In 2012, Laura Belem created The Temple of a Thousand Bells, which used individually-made clear glass bells in a composition combining bell chimes with a narrative describing how a temple sinks into the sea, silencing the music of a thousand bells.[44][45]


  1. ^ a b "York Museums Trust axes 43 jobs in battle for survival". York Press. 10 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  2. ^ Trustees Reports and Financial Statements, Year Ended 31 March 2016 (PDF) (Report). York Museums Trust. 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  3. ^ "History". York Museums Trust website. York Museums Trust. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Brave new world for museums in York". The York Press. 1 August 2002. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  5. ^ "York Museums Trust". City of York Council. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Trustees Reports and Financial Statements, Year Ended 31 March 2018" (PDF). York Museums Trust. 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  7. ^ "York Museums Trust History". York Museums Trust. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Ten years of York Museums Trust". York Press. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Getting the most out of treasure". BBC News. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  10. ^ In 2007 the Whelans had been quoted as saying that a conservative estimate for the value of the hoard was about £750,000.("Viking treasure hoard uncovered". BBC. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2013.)
  11. ^ "Hockney's largest painting pulls the crowds in York". York - Arts and Culture. BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Iron Age gold bracelet to stay at Yorkshire Museum". BBC News York. BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Middleham Jewel". A History of the World. BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  14. ^ "York Helmet". A History of the World. BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Shackleton's tin of Rowntree's Cocoa". A History of the World. BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  16. ^ "University helps local community reach for the stars". BBC Stargazing Live 2013. york.ac.uk. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  17. ^ "York Castle Museum lottery grant funds WWI exhibition". BBC News York. BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  18. ^ "NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF YORK MUSEUMS TRUST ANNOUNCED". York Museums Trust. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  19. ^ "York Museums boss to join National Trust for Scotland". Museum Association. 1 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Forward Plan 2012 - 2018" (PDF). York Museums Trust. yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk. p. 4. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  22. ^ "York Museums Trust". National portfolio organisations. Arts Council England. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  23. ^ "Our People: Trustees". York Museums Trust. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  24. ^ "CORONAVIRUS - Wednesday 18 March local updates". Minster FM. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  25. ^ Laycock, Mike (28 July 2020). "York Museums Trust warns of possible job losses after losing £1.5 million". York Press. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  26. ^ "'Drastic' state of trust finances threatens future of York museums". YorkMix. 19 August 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Saved! York music venues, theatres and museums get government cash lifeline". YorkMix. 13 October 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  28. ^ "'We intend to keep York Museum Gardens open': Museums bosses". York Press. 2 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  29. ^ "PICTURES: New 'magical' festive display to open at York Castle Museum". Northern Echo. 29 November 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  30. ^ "VISITOR INFORMATION". York Art Gallery. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Guidance: Full list of local restriction tiers by area". gov.uk. 31 December 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  33. ^ "'We had to make very difficult decisions to survive' - York museums boss". York Press. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  34. ^ "York Museums Trust to receive £423,000 from Government Fund". York Press. 2 April 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  35. ^ "World famous portrait of Richard III to be put on show in York". YorkMix. 7 May 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  36. ^ "Galleries: Yorkshire Museum". Art UK. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  37. ^ "York Museum Gardens". PlantNetwork: The Plant Collections Network of Britain and Ireland (2005). plantnetwork.org. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  38. ^ "Galleries: York Castle Museum". Art UK. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  39. ^ "Anthony Shaw ceramics collection loaned to York Art Gallery". BBC News. BBC. 19 September 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  40. ^ "York Art Gallery £8m refurbishment to begin in new year". BBC News. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  41. ^ "Galleries: York Museums Trust". Art UK. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  42. ^ "More about York Museums Trust". Art UK. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  43. ^ "Welcome to York St Marys". York Museums Trust. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  44. ^ "St Mary's Church, Castlegate". Jorvik an illustrated guide to York. jorvik.co.uk. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  45. ^ "Installation: The Temple of a Thousand Bells". Events Arts & Culture. yourlocallink.co.uk. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2013.

External links[edit]