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 Past exhibitions



Leeds Industrial Museum holds a varied range of exhibitions throughout the year, exploring everything from contemporary art to industrial history!

Click on the drop-down menu below to find out more about previous exhibitions at the museum. Details of current exhibitions at all of our sites are displayed on the Exhibitions page.

Click to expandA Colourful Past



​22 March - 31 July 2016

(Millspace Gallery)

This exhibition uncovered the colourful story of over two centuries of dyeing expertise in Leeds and revealed a new project to recreate natural dyes.

Leeds was once home to some of the largest mills in the world, where dyers, dyemakers and chemists turned woollen goods into colourful garments. Benjamin Gott, owner of Armley Mills in the nineteenth century, had his son learn the trade in the dyehouse. He produced his own dye recipe book using natural dyes to show that he had learned his trade.

The Heritage Dyers Group recreated the dye recipes in Gott’s book with the help of dyeing expert Debbie Tomkies of DT Craft & Design. They displayed the colourful samples they produced, using natural dyes, a blend of old knowledge and modern technology!

Click to expandMemoria



​1 August 2015 – 4 October 2015


This exhibition captured the memories of working life at Armley Mills and presented them in a series of stunning illuminated porcelain sculptures. Positioned within the mill spaces and outbuildings; each sculpture was been created as a specific response to the memories of the families and people who used to work here when it was a textiles mill. The sculptures, Waves, Aerial, Wing and Gleam, lit up dark areas of the building with a soft glow.

David Bridges and a team of volunteers conducted months of research work tracing the working history of the mill and speaking to people who used to work there. Their memories, along with newly discovered archives, have now brought Armley Mills’ past back to life through light.

This was the first time an experimental contemporary art exhibition went on display at Leeds Industrial Museum and it was made possible through New Expressions 3, an Arts Council England national pathfinder programme, which fosters collaboration between contemporary artists and museums. 

Find out more about the Memoria project

David Bridges' website

Twitter tour of the Memoria exhibition

Click to expandMy Case My Journey



(MillSpace Gallery)
5 March- June 2015 
 
'My Case, My Journey' was a collaborative project between University of Leeds students and a diverse group of women who have come to call Leeds their home. In conjunction with the Together Women Project and Leeds Museums and Galleries, and launching in line with International Women’s Day, the exhibition portrays the stories of women in migrant communities.

Through an exploration of identity and community, 'My Case, My Journey' created a space in which women were able to share their personal journeys. 

Click to expandJohn Fowler



​4 November 2014 - 27 Sept 2015

This fascinating exhibition celebrated the life and achievements of the agricultural engineer John Fowler 150 years after his untimely death.
John Fowler was a pioneer in the development of steam engines for ploughing and his inventions significantly changed the course of agricultural practice.

This exhibition reveals the extent of John Fowler’s achievements and brings together exhibits from the Leeds Museums and Galleries collections, as well as objects from other lenders including the Museum of English Rural Life.

Click to expandRepresentations and Realities



(MillSpace Gallery)
1 July – 11 August 2014

Representations and Realities was a photography exhibition by Leeor Ohayon, an emerging documentary photographer and recent graduate of the University of Leeds.


The exhibition emerged through a partnership between Leeor Ohayon and the Together Women Project in a quest to create an accurate portrait of Women in Leeds for International Women’s Week. 


Using the experiences, stories and opinions of the participants, Representations and Realities sought to challenge societal preconceptions and misrepresentations, touching on themes of gender binaries, sexuality, femininity and motherhood.

Click to expandThe Drift



7 January – 30 March 2014

This exhibition was organised by social-documentary photographer Ian Beesley and the poet and presenter Ian McMillan. This body of work explores the harshness and dangers of coal mining in one of the last working pits in England. It shows the physicality of industrial work, the relationship between the underground and the surface, the claustrophobia and darkness of the pit.


Hayroyd’s colliery was founded in 1911 it was owned by the same family for three generations before being sold to a workers’ cooperative in 1995. Beesley made his first visit to the colliery in 1990 and over the next 20 years he was granted unlimited access above and below ground to document the life of the colliery, documenting the triumphs and disasters that befell the colliery, until the mine closed in 2012.


This exhibition and the accompanying publication provide a unique insight into the closed and dangerous world of coal mining.

(Image © Ian Beesley)

Click to expandPotts of Leeds



​5 October 2013 - 28 September 2014

In the clocks – and clockmakers – of Leeds, one name reigns supreme: Potts. From the Town hall to the Corn Exchange, some of the most recognisable clocks in Leeds were made by Potts. To celebrate the work of this great Leeds company, Armley Mills exhibited the Potts family’s private collection of clocks for the very first time.


William Potts began making clocks in Pudsey in 1833. Garnering fame for the quality and reliability of their clocks the company received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1897. Over five generations the Potts family produced some 1,600 public clocks for towns across the world.


This exhibition brought together examples spanning the history of the company and featured a varied collection of turret clocks, wall clocks, drum clocks and unusual clock-based items. There are prominent royal clocks and an example of the company’s famous railway clock from Argentina. All of the clocks on display ran for the duration of the exhibition.

(Image of Charles H Potts courtesy of the Potts family. All rights reserved)