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History Gallery

The History Gallery explores three periods of Coventry's history in detail and shows how each played a major role in shaping the city we see today.

City of Spires - Medieval Coventry 

This section looks at life in late medieval Coventry from 1450 to 1509. In many ways this was a golden age as Coventry was the largest city in the Midlands and one of the most important in England. City of Spires explores the wealth and power of the guilds and the church, looks at the industries that provided the wealth and compares the life of rich and poor in medieval Coventry.

City of Industry - Victorian Coventry

The end of the medieval period saw the decline of Coventry's influence but during the reign of Queen Victoria the city's fortunes revived. Two industries dominated the city for most of this period - watchmaking and ribbon weaving. The stories of both are told in the History Gallery. The focal point of this section is a display that recalls the Coventry Exhibition of 1867. City of Industry also explores education, disease and poverty and middle class life in Coventry. Finally it looks at the birth of the modern industries of cycle and car making which were to transform Coventry.

City of Dreams - Coventry from 1939 to the present

City of Dreams looks at the experiences of Coventry people during the Second World War. It also focuses on the rebuilding of the city after the war, the boom period of the 1950s and 1960s and the industries which provided this wealth. The section also explores changing leisure time and the experiences of young people, women and people moving to Coventry during this period.

There is plenty to see and do in the History Gallery. There is a wealth of objects, many family friendly interactives, films to watch, people's own stories to listen to and a children's trail for families to follow.

For Families

The History Gallery tells the story of Coventry and its people from the medieval period to the present day.

Look out for the orange framed text panels which will lead you on a family trail around the gallery and help you to find out fun facts.

Start exploring in the medieval section; try on and feel how heavy a piece of chain mail is, try on a replica Coventry mystery play mask and even (if you dare) smell a medieval toilet!

Try your hand at weaving to see if you would have been a good ribbon weaver, and explore the magnificent clothing and toys of the Victorian period, including spinning a zoetrope, a toy that made moving images.

Imagine Coventry during the Second World War - sit inside the Anderson shelter on display, or watch the film of Coventry after the Blitz. There are plenty of objects to spot and work out what they are. What was the gas mask used for or a tin of powdered dried egg?

Before you go, don’t miss Coventry in the 1970s up to present day, a place for adults to reminisce and for children to find out what a Space Hopper and a Rubik's cube are!