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Laura’s Cultural Day Around Leeds

Want to cram in as much culture in a day as possible? Join me on my cultural jaunt around Leeds!

Starting the day at 10am, I stop by the Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds. This impressive Art Deco building is not only the hub of the University of Leeds but it is also the home of two of my favourite cultural hotspots in Leeds.


Maurice De Sausmarez, ‘Whitelocks’, 1955, oil painting. © Courtesy of Jane de Sausmarez.  Image © Un

(IMAGE: Maurice De Sausmarez, ‘Whitelocks’, 1955, oil painting. © Courtesy of Jane de Sausmarez. Image © University of Leeds)

First stop, a visit to The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery gives me the art fix I need first thing in the morning. I make sure to stop by a few of my favourite paintings, including Maurice de Sauzmarez’s vivid 1950s’ depiction of Leeds’ oldest pub Whitelocks, and Katharine Holmes’ entrancing piece ‘Limestone Chasm’ inspired by Gordale scar in Malham. 


Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery. Image © University of Leeds

(IMAGE: Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery. Image © University of Leeds)

My next stop is just across the Parkinson Building court to the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery. The Treasures Gallery is one of the newest galleries in Leeds, opening in 2016. It is the home of the University’s Special Collections, and boy do the collections live up to their name! My must-sees include the tiny Babylonian clay tablet that is over 4500 year old, and the fascinating material written by the very intriguing, but often forgotten brother of the Brontë sisters, Branwell Brontë. 


Quentin Bell, Levitating Woman 'The Dreamer', 1982, Sculpture fibreglass. © Olivier Bell. Image © Un

(IMAGE: Quentin Bell, Levitating Woman 'The Dreamer', 1982, Sculpture: fibreglass. © Olivier Bell. Image © University of Leeds)

Moving on, I grab a Public Art trail map from The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery and use it to make the short walk to the city centre. I could stare at Quentin Bell’s ‘The Dreamer’ for days, top tip - this is a great selfie spot! 

All this culture has got me hungry! My go-to cultural hangout for lunch is the stunning, beautiful, mesmerising and colourful Tiled Hall Café attached to Leeds Art Gallery. I don’t think there are enough adjectives to do this place justice!


Tiled Hall Cafe - Leeds Art Gallery

(IMAGE: The Tiled Hall Cafe)

Lunch is over, on with the culture! Just next door to Leeds Art Gallery is the wonderful Henry Moore Institute. With a great programme of changing exhibitions you never know what wonders you will see next. Do you remember when they had a statue of King Kong outside that was over five metres tall?!

From the Henry Moore Institute I have a wander through the gorgeous arcades in the city centre, and pop into the Leeds Corn Exchange for that iconic view, before jumping on the water taxi at Granary Wharf. Did you know the water taxis are called Twee and Drie? They even have their own twitter account


(c) Royal Armouries Museum

(IMAGE: Royal Armouries Museum Leeds)

I jump off the water taxi at Leeds Dock and head to my final cultural stop of the day – the Royal Armouries Museum. The Royal Armouries has five floors, covering everything from the swords of Middle Earth (as a fantasy geek this is a favourite!) to the iconic Hall of Steel. And of course I finish up the day in North Star Coffee Roasters with a well-deserved cup of coffee and a piece of cake!


Author Bio: Laura Beare is Assistant Manager at Leeds University Library Galleries. She has been in Leeds for just over two years and has loved discovering the cultural gems the city has to offer. To find out more about Leeds University Library Galleries visit: