Our History

The head office for the National Justice Museum is based in Nottingham's old Shire Hall and County Gaol.

There has been a court on the site since at least 1375 and a prison since at least 1449. Over the centuries, many thousands of people have entered the building with a sense of dread for their future. The very steps to the entrance were the site of many public executions.

The organisation was originally formed in 1993 as The Museum of Law Trust, which aimed to save the building from potential demolition. It was opened as a museum with the title of the Galleries of Justice in April 1995.

We later became a leader in public legal education. In 2011 we were commissioned as the education provider at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and we have been delivering education in courtrooms across the North West since 2014.

In early 2017, following a £1 million Heritage Lottery Fund supported project, the museum became the National Justice Museum.


A brief timeline of our history is below, as well as the opportunity to find out more about the history of our heritage sites:

1993:The Museum of Law Trust was established

1994: £3.5 million was raised and the restoration of the site of Nottingham’s former Shire Hall began

1995: The Galleries of Justice Museum opened to the public

2002: Our education department became the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law (NCCL)

2003: We won the Gulbenkian Prize for the inspirational work of the NCCL

2004: We were commissioned to operate Nottingham’s City of Caves

2006: We won a Museums and Heritage Award for Excellence for Best Educational Initiative

2007: We launched ‘Help a Nottinghamshire Child’ – a fundraising campaign which has worked with young people to help them to stay away from crime through early intervention education workshops.

2011: We were commissioned as the education provider for London’s Royal Courts of Justice and UK Supreme Court, delivering education programmes in working courtrooms

2014: We were commissioned to provide education programmes in courtrooms in the North West

2014: We won the Visit England Award for Best Visitor Attraction

2015: We were commissioned to provide education programmes at the Rolls Building commercial courts

2015: We were awarded £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to make major improvements to the museum

2017: The National Justice Museum opens to the public on Sat 1 April 2017