Art Fund

St Fagans National Museum of History named best free museum by Which?

Image: St Fagan's National History Museum © Marc Atkins / Art Fund 2019)

A consumer survey asked for feedback on facilities, crowds, queueing times, and value for money

A consumer survey from Which? has named St Fagans National Museum of History as the best free museum in the UK.

The Cardiff museum, part of the wider network of Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, took the top spot in the museums category after 4,000 people offered their assessment of more than 100 museums, galleries, cathedrals, and historic sites that offer free admission.

Each was ranked on its engagement and entertainment factor, the quality of the information provided, queueing times and crowdedness, the range and quality of facilities and value for money.

The feedback was then collated into a ‘customer score’ . The historic attractions survey was carried out in 2022 and the museums and galleries survey was carried out in 2020.

St Fagans National Museum of History scored 94%, while jointly second with 91% were the National Railway Museum in York, and the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum in Cosford.

Other highly-rated free museums and galleries in the Which? survey were the National Museum of Scotland, with a customer score of 90%, the Cardiff National Museum with 87%, and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, the Royal Air Force Museum in London and Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, all of which scored 87%.

Which? consumer survey results for free museums and galleries

St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff 94%
National Railway Museum, York 91%
Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum, Cosford 91%
National Museum of Scotland 90%
Cardiff National Museum 87%
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum 87%
Royal Air Force Museum, London  87%
Walker Art Gallery 87%
Oxford University Museum of Natural History  86%
Scottish National Galleries  86%

Which? also asked almost 3,000 people to rank their favourite historic attractions, rating them on nine criteria including accessibility, the quality of food and drink available and lack of crowds.

The resulting data suggests that consumers were slightly less impressed with the UK’s free heritage attractions.

The highest scoring, free heritage attraction in the Which? survey was Durham Cathedral, with a customer score of 86%.

St David’s Cathedral also rated highly, with a customer score of 80%, and with a score of 76% was the Houses of Parliament.

Other highly rated free historic attractions include Bury St Edmunds Abbey, which received a customer score of 73%, Somerset House at 71% and Bristol Cathedral at 68%.

Which? consumer survey results for free historic attractions

Durham Cathedral 86%
St David’s Cathedral 80%
Chichester Cathedral 77%
Houses of Parliament 76%
Bury St Edmunds Abbey  73%
Somerset House 71%
Bristol Cathedral 68%

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “As the cost of living crisis continues to be a strain on household budgets, finding cheap or free days out has never been more important. Fortunately the UK has a number of fantastic museums, galleries and other attractions which offer free entry and hours of fun.”