Visiting the Museum of Wigan Life

The exterior building of the Museum of Wigan Life

About the museum

The Museum of Wigan Life and Wigan Local Studies Library offer a fantastic opportunity for learning and discovery.

The Museum of Wigan Life is housed in Wigan’s first public library and first public building with electric lighting. Alfred Waterhouse designed the building, which opened in 1878 and also designed the Natural History Museum in London and Manchester Town Hall. In 1936 George Orwell researched his book 'The Road to Wigan Pier' in the Reference Library (now Family History and Local Studies) upstairs.

You can delve into your own family history and local area in our dedicated department upstairs at the museum. Our friendly staff are always on hand to help and advise.

Entry to the museum is FREE.

Exhibitions and displays

Discover the people and places of Wigan Borough both past and present at the Museum of Wigan Life.

The Museum of Wigan Life will have displays on Romans, Egyptians and Wigan’s trade and industry.

Get up close and personal with ancient coffins and grave goods in our Ancient Egypt Rediscovered display. This amazing collection covers over 3000 years of Egyptian history, and our spectacular gold mask is currently on display.

Visit the museum’s current exhibition, Make Some Noise: From Stage Door to Dance Floor, celebrating Wigan Borough’s unique history of music and entertainment.

From Cinemas and Local Legends to Brass Bands, Jazz and Northern Soul this dynamic exhibition brings to life the incredible range of musical genres our towns have embraced and called their own. Expect to see and hear the very best with original objects and music from Wigan Casino, George Formby, The Verve, Buzzcocks and much more. This engaging, interactive, family-friendly exhibition has something for everyone and your musical memories will come flooding back!

Wigan Local Studies Library, situated above the Museum, has a temporary display ’Uncle Joe’s – Making Life Sweeter For Over 125 Years’ that tells the story of Wigan’s favourite sweet factory.

Please see the What's on - Museums and archives page for events and activities.

Opening times

  • Tuesday - Friday: 10am - 4pm
  • Saturday: 10am - 2pm

How to get here

Museum of Wigan Life
Library Street

The museum is at the end of Library Street, two minutes walk from Wigan town centre and five minutes walk from Wigan Wallgate and Wigan Northern Western train stations and Wigan bus station.

There is limited parking outside the museum on Library Street. In addition, there is a Pay and Display car park on Rodney Street and a multi-storey car park at the Grand Arcade shopping centre, both within a few minutes walk to the museum.

Get in touch


Stack of tins of Uncle Joe's mint balls on a shelf

Family friendly

The museum especially welcomes families. There is a baby changing facility on the ground floor in the accessible toilet.


  • The museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users with an accessible toilet and lift.
  • There is accessible parking at the top of Library Street.
  • Guide and assistance dogs are welcome at the museum.
  • A hearing loop system is available in the main galleries and around the reception in Local and Family History on the first floor. Please contact us in advance for the portable hearing loop.
  • There is magnifying software on some computers in our Family History and Local Studies department.
  • Magnifiers may be available on request, please ask at reception.

© Wigan Council